Archive November 2018 XIX, No. 11

The Case for Concurrent Cases

Double-booked surgeons must choreograph their every move.

Mike Morsch

Mike Morsch, Associate Editor

BIO

DOUBLE TROUBLE?
DOUBLE TROUBLE? Overlapping surgery got a bad rap a few years ago when investigators found patients waiting under anesthesia for prolonged periods and absentee surgeons who forced residents or fellows to operate on their own.

Can you run dual ortho rooms without running into trouble? The surgeons we spoke with say overlapping surgeries, in which surgeons delegate another doctor or a physician assistant to close one surgery while he works on a second patient in another OR, are safe if you establish a precise protocol — and never deviate from it.

“It’s easy to do it poorly and it’s hard to do it well,” says Daniel Branham, MD, of Tennessee Orthopaedic Clinics in Knoxville, Tenn.

Running dual ortho ORs is known by many names — double-booked, simultaneous, overlapping or concurrent surgery — but the practice got a bad rap a few years ago. In October 2015, the Boston Globe investigated concurrent surgery at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital. Reports described patients waiting under anesthesia for prolonged periods and absentee surgeons who forced residents or fellows to operate on their own.

“I never want to be the one who gets told, ‘I had my patient under anesthesia for 10 minutes before you even got here,’” says Mark Topolski, MD, of Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, Wis.

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