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Overlapping surgeries may result in medical malpractice

When going in for surgery, a patient hopes that his or her operation will be performed by an expert medical team that focuses on only that patient until the surgery is complete. However, prospective patients should be aware that many hospitals engage in a practice called overlapping. If they do this in a way that leads to negative repercussions for a patient, there may be grounds for a medical malpractice suit.

Overlapping is the practice of scheduling two or more surgeries at overlapping times, requiring physicians to go back and forth from one surgery to the other. This practice means that when you are the patient, you will not be getting your physician's full attention during your surgery, but instead only a percentage of it.

There are rules that govern this practice. Key among those rules is informing the patient in advance of the surgery that overlapping is scheduled. Additionally, the lead physician is not supposed to have critical aspects of a procedure for one patient happening concurrent with critical aspects of a procedure for another patient.

In other words, overlapping is supposed to encompass only noncritical elements of surgery, with the lead physician fully completing the critical aspects of surgery for one patient, delegating noncritical aspects to other members of the medical team and then moving on to the next patient.

Unfortunately, physicians are given what many view as too much discretion in regards to what parts of procedures are critical. That can result in them dividing their time between essential parts of surgeries for different patients, a practice known as concurrent surgeries.

That, in turn, can result in serious problems. One hospital alone had 44 reports of problems arising from the practice between 2005 and 2015. One patient even emerged from a surgery paralyzed, and attributes this to the fact that the surgeon was running an operation for another patient at the same time. He is now suing for malpractice. Others who suspect that such conditions may have resulted in negative repercussions for themselves will want to review the details of their case with their attorney.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, "Is Your Surgery Double-Booked?," Michael O. Schroeder, accessed May 31, 2017

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