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Ben Rubinowitz and Evan Torgan

An increasingly common yet controversial practice is being implemented in hospitals around the country. Concurrent or simultaneous surgery is a practice in which one surgeon is simultaneously involved in two or more surgical procedures on different patients in different operating rooms. To legitimize this practice, medical studies have been published arguing that the practice is safe and that there is no difference in mortality or complications. It is further argued that the practice allows medical residents to take on more responsibility and that it allows exceptionally gifted surgeons to make their talents more widely available. Studies have also been published which found an increase in complications with overlapping surgeries. These studies argue that the practice is not safe and suggest that the real motive for double booking is financial—greater profit for both the surgeon and the hospital. When the surgery goes well, there is little cause for alarm; however, when the patient is injured during double booked surgery, it is up to the plaintiff’s lawyer to explore whether the double booking contributed to the outcome. The plaintiff’s attorney must explore whether the attending surgeon was truly present for all “critical” portions of the procedure, whether the resident performed more than “non-essential” portions of the surgery and whether the patient was advised before the surgery, of the plan to double book and gave informed consent to this.

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