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Operating on more than one patient at a time

Many people don't believe it, but there are times when surgeons operate on more than one patient at the same time. Recently, the chairman of the US Senate Finance Committee has requested that 20 hospital systems, including those such as Massachusetts General Hospital, to provide records regarding the practice of operating on multiple patients at the same time.

Within the documents, the senator heading the inquiry is hoping to learn more about the total number of "concurrent surgeries" that have been performed in the past. Furthermore, he wants information on whether or not the patients were informed, how many of these surgeries were performed, and the type.

In a letter written by the senator to the hospitals, the following was said:

"We are concerned about reports of patients not being informed that they may be sharing their surgeon with another patient, and we are especially concerned by reports that, in some cases, steps have been taken to actively conceal this practice from patients."

It is important for patients to fully understand what type of treatment they are receiving. It appears that this may not always be the case with concurrent procedures, as there are times when the patient is not informed that this will happen.

As a patient, you have the right to understand what will happen when you undergo a procedure. There should not be any gray area. There should not be any information that you don't have access to. The bottom line is simple: Some people are not comfortable with the idea of sharing a surgeon, as it could increase the chance of something going wrong.

Source: The Boston Globe, "Overlapping surgeries to face US Senate inquiry," March 13, 2016

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