Rise of Doubly Booked Surgeons Questioned
The practice of doing two surgeries at the same time has been standard in many teaching hospitals for decades. But now, its safety and ethics are being questioned by many and largely unknown by the actual patient receiving the surgery.
Most of the debate about the issue exist right in the medical community. Known as “running two rooms” — or double-booked, simultaneous or concurrent surgery — the practice occurs in teaching hospitals where senior attending surgeons delegate trainees — usually residents or fellows — to perform parts of one surgery while the attending surgeon works on a second patient in another operating room. Sometimes senior surgeons aren’t even in the OR, but are seeing patients elsewhere. Double-booking is believed to be most common in orthopedics, cardiac surgery and neurosurgery, but it’s seen almost everywhere now.
The issue was first questioned when a Boston Globe article about the practice at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital in October 2015. Patients who signed standard consent forms said they were not told their surgeries were double-booked. And, some said they would never have agreed to the double-booked surgery had they known. The practice has also figured prominently in cases in South Florida, Nashville and most recently, Seattle.