Surgeons should inform their patients if they plan to conduct multiple operations at the same time, the American College of Surgeons declared last week. In addition, ACS said that primary attending surgeons should not simultaneously conduct surgeries on different patients in different rooms.
The new guidance — the first to cover simultaneous operations — follows a 2015 investigation by The Boston Globe about surgery practices and malpractice allegations at Massachusetts General Hospital. The Globe last week reported that the patient disclosure guideline would generally be a new standard for surgeons as the ACS aimed to prevent overlaps of “critical or key” parts of operations.
Surgeons would still be allowed to leave non-critical parts of procedures to other qualified surgeons and begin another operation elsewhere, and the practice of operating simultaneously in different rooms is already restricted by Medicare rules.
Critics characterized the standards as toothless and argued that they would not address the health and ethical concerns surrounding “double-booked” surgeries. Proponents countered that both standards, while not legally binding, would serve as loud reminders to surgeons about best practices. “Now their feet will be held to the fire,” Dr. L.D. Britt, who served on the panel that drafted the guidance, told the Globe.