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Surgeon's overlapped surgeries may result in medical malpractice

When patients in Kentucky consent to surgery by their chosen surgeon, they expect to have careful monitoring and focused care throughout the surgery. Unknown to many patients, some surgeons may overlap their surgeries, leaving trainees to monitor the patient as the head surgeon moves on to another patient. While this is an accepted practice in many hospitals, an anesthesiologist in another state has filed a lawsuit for what she considers to be excessive overlapping and double booking of surgeries. She is hopeful the lawsuit will institute changes to protect patients and prevent unnecessary medical malpractice.

The lawsuit alleges that one orthopedic surgeon's group overlapped surgeries on a regular basis and may have falsified hospital records regarding the amount of time they spent in each surgery. Patients were not made aware of the overlap or that their surgeons were often not present for long periods of time, leaving trainees in charge instead. The lawsuit highlights multiple cases over a five year period that may have violated the rules of Medicare and Medicaid. According to the rules of Medicare and Medicaid, surgeons must be present for all critical portions of a patient's surgery, but the lawsuit alleges that in some cases trainees were alone for critical portions of the surgeries.

The surgeon's juggle of multiple cases often left patients under anesthesia for longer than necessary. The lawsuit claims that in one case, a patient was under anesthesia for a full 90 minutes while the surgeon completed another surgery. Unnecessary anesthesia not only increases medical bills for anesthesia, but may place the patient at risk for post-operative complications such as pneumonia.

Surgeons and hospitals across the country and in Kentucky strongly disagree on whether or not surgery overlapping may pose necessary risk to patients. Patients who suspect they have may have suffered unnecessary surgical complications or injury due to a surgeon's negligence may benefit from speaking to a medical malpractice attorney about their rights and options. Attorneys can examine the evidence and advise patients according to their unique situations.

Source: The Boston Globe, "MGH surgeons left patients waiting under anesthesia while they did second surgeries, whistle blower charges", Jonathan Saltzman and Todd Wallack, June 7, 2017

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