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Double-booked surgeons: What you need to know about the teaching hospital practice

by AirTalk®

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A surgeon and his theatre team perform key hole surgery to remove a gallbladder at at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital on March 16, 2010 in Birmingham, England. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Teaching hospitals around the country have been using a controversial booking method when scheduling surgeons.

As reported by Kaiser Health News, overlapping and concurrent surgery is a way for surgeons to perform procedures on more patients. Overlapping surgery refers to doctors working on two patients in different rooms during the same block of time. The doctor performs and decides what the “critical” part of the surgery is, while a resident in training does other parts of the procedure. Concurrent surgery, “or running two rooms” is when two surgeries are booked simultaneously and a senior attending surgeon gives trainees the responsibility of performing one part of the surgery, while the trainee completes another part. Concurrent surgery is rare and not covered by Medicaid.

While double-booking surgery isn’t new, many patients are unaware of the likelihood of their doctor not being present during parts of the their procedure. This is most common with cardiac, neurosurgery and orthopedic surgery. Proponents of the practice say this gives doctors the opportunity to help more patients. But critics argue that patients should be able to choose whether their doctor stays with them throughout the procedure. Larry speaks to two surgeons today to get an inside look at the pros and cons of double-booking.


Dr. James Rickert, M.D., orthopedic surgeon and and assistant clinical professor of orthopedic surgery at Indiana University Bloomington; he is president of The Society for Patient Centered Orthopedics, a patient care advocacy nonprofit

Emily Finlayson, M.D. M.S., associate professor of surgery and director at the Center for Surgery in Older Adults at UC San Francisco; she specializes in colorectal surgery

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