Doctors Performing Two Surgeries at Once: Oregon Medical Malpractice Alert

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Are You Safe When Doctors Performing Two Surgeries at Once Handle Your Procedure in Oregon?

Surgeries are complex procedures that carry risks, including serious injuries and deaths. There is a reason why residents and fellows should be supervised as they are still in the process of learning. When an experienced physician fails to fully supervise a resident or fellow performing a surgery, mistakes can happen. These mistakes often happen when the experienced physician who is supposed to be performing the surgery splits his time between two operating rooms, leaving the inexperienced individual improperly supervised. Yes, this is a real fact and it could be medical malpractice.  Doctors performing two surgeries at once is a very common practice, usually with the help of assistant surgeons or residents.  

But that is a proposition because you expect your surgery to be performed by a doctor, not an assistant and certainly not a resident learning to become a doctor.  It can be even more troubling to know that your doctor is performing multiple surgeries at the same time, and it can be concerning to figure out why or how.  This is particularly true if the two surgeries are massive procedures such as an abdominal, heart, brain, or spinal surgery.  Not only does this create risk of the surgery going wrong by a physician bouncing back and forth, but it can also bring other germs from other patients and OR personnel back and forth into your OR during a procedure.  This can obviously increase the risks of surgery significantly.

Double Surgeries in Oregon

Generally speaking, patients undergoing these surgeries are unaware of this fact and the risks involved of having an inexperienced resident or fellow perform the bulk of the surgery while their hired, consulted, and paid-for doctor is off doing multiple surgeries—and not in the room. If patients were aware of this fact, they likely would not be comfortable with this and would not provide consent. 

While this may sound outrageous and illegal, hospitals are unfortunately allowed to decide if this practice is allowed within their hospital. Often this practice is allowed to reduce costs and decrease wait times for surgeries. Double booking, or “running two rooms” most often occurs in neurosurgery, orthopedics, and cardiac surgery. These surgical areas require competent and knowledgable physicians to run these procedures. Mistakes have been made as a result of inexperienced and unsupervised physicians conducting these procedures. While it is important for residents and fellows to gain experience by performing surgeries, these procedures should still be conducted with an attending physician present. 

Not only have hospitals and surgical facilities approved of this, but so have insurance companies.  Yes, insurance companies allow doctors performing two surgeries at once.  The only requirements that insurance companies generally have is that the doctor be in the room for certain “milestones” of the procedure.  Usually this number is just “two” major milestones, but sometimes it could be more depending on the type of procedure.  For reference, milestones include first incision and last suture.  Let that sink in that a doctor could make the first cut, and last stitch, and be absent for everything that happens in between.  That is absolutely frightening.  Other milestones typically include tasks such as repairing a torn ligament, debriding a meniscus, or performing other types of procedures or tasks during a surgery.  

What are the Possible Complications of Having an Unsupervised, Inexperienced Physician Perform Your Surgery? 

While this practice may be legal, it does not mean that this practice is safe. Failure to have a trained physician or an unsupervised physician that is still in training perform your surgery can have major repercussions. Complications from a these types of mistakes include the following:

  • Death
  • Infection
  • Paralysis
  • Brain damage
  • Cardiac damage
  • Nerve damage
  • Organ damage or perforation 
  • Longer surgery duration
  • Longer time under anesthesia

These are just a few of the many possible complications from having an unsupervised physician such as a resident or fellow perform your surgery. 

Is this Really a Problem?

Yes, absolutely.  Most times doctors are performing two surgeries at once and patients will never know.  But unfortunately, most mistakes during a procedure could be due to Oregon medical malpractice.  

A Canadian Study on Concurrent Surgeries

In a massive study in Canada, 70,000 hip operations across 75 hospitals were examined. The study dealt with patients who were part of multiple surgeries. The study had the following findings:

  • The patients that were a part of this had a longer duration of surgeries
  • The patients had a higher risk of catching an infection or needing follow-ups including further surgery.
  • The patients were also kept under anesthesia longer. 

The rate of increase of complications was in fact found to be very alarming at seven percent for every 10 minutes. This study also exposed one more serious issue with simultaneous surgeries, the fact that these doctors or hospitals were not taking permission from patients or their families while going ahead with these surgeries. This is a very critical as informed consent is a very necessary step before conducting surgeries. If a doctor or a hospital goes ahead with simultaneous surgeries without informed consent, it could even be grounds for medical malpractice. 

US Senate Investigation into simultaneous surgeries 

In the medical world, there have been repeated instances of doctors who are critical of or oppose simultaneous surgeries of being wrongfully terminated. Instances of unsafe conditions of simultaneous surgeries were revealed in a Boston Globe investigation at Massachusetts General Hospital, and in another study at the Swedish Health Hospital in Seattle, Washington. Such reports led the US Senate to conduct their own investigation titled “Concurrent and Overlapping Surgeries.”

The Senate in their report stated that:

The Boston Globe article provided an in-depth review of concurrent surgeries being practiced at certain hospitals operating in the Boston area, alleging that the practice may have resulted in several instances of measurable patient harm, including deaths. Specifically, the article described operations in which surgeons divided their attentions between two operating rooms over several hours, failed to return to the operation when residents or fellows needed assistance, or failed to arrive on-time for surgeries, leaving residents or fellows to perform surgeries unsupervised or resulting in patients under anesthesia for prolonged periods.

A number of patient advocates also raised concerns to the Committee that the primary motivation for a surgeon to conduct concurrent surgeries was financial, enriching surgeons at the expense of patient care.”

The US Senate report did note the position of advocates of the procedure that concurrent surgeries help more patients get treatment from “in-demand surgeons,” and “helps train medical professionals by pairing senior doctors with residents or fellows.”

How Can Our Oregon Medical Malpractice Attorneys Help You?

 As you can see, there are many dangers to double booking surgeries. This is because it allows an inexperienced physician to perform the majority of a surgery unsupervised which can lead to serious complications, including wrongful death. When this occurs, the physicians involved should be held liable for medical malpractice. 

If you or your loved one encountered complications or death from their surgery due to an inexperienced, unsupervised physician performing their surgery, you may be eligible for compensation. This includes compensation if doctors performing two surgeries at once harmed you or a loved one.  After all, the hospital, surgical group, surgical site, and insurance company approved this practice—now they should be responsible for these mistakes.  This is why you should contact our Oregon medical malpractice lawyers who can review your case to determine if the complications that occurred during your surgery were a result of medical malpractice. 

Compensation for this type of injury may include the following:

  • Past physical pain and suffering 
  • Future physical pain and suffering
  • Past and future emotional pain and suffering
  • Past, present and future medical bills
  • Rehabilitation coverage
  • Assistive device coverage
  • Lost wages
  • Lost future wages
  • Loss of consortium
  • Burial and funeral expenses

Get Help After Surgical Injuries Harmed You or a Loved One

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or killed as a result of medical malpractice contact the Oregon Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Kuhlman Law at our number below or fill out the intake form.  We offer a free initial case evaluation and handle cases on a contingency fee which means that you pay no money unless we recover.

Our law firm handles cases throughout the state including Bend and Portland Oregon, Redmond, Central Oregon, Sisters, Madras, Multnomah County, Deschutes County, Salem, Eugene, Corvallis, Lane County, Medford, Gresham, La Grande, Albany, Medford, Beaverton, Umatilla, Pendleton,  Cottage Grove, Florence, Oregon City, Springfield, Keizer, Grants Pass, McMinnville, Tualatin, West Linn, Forest Grove, Wilsonville, Newberg, Roseburg, Lake Oswego, Klamath Falls, Happy Valley, Tigard, Ashland, Milwakie, Coos Bay, The Dalles,  St. Helens, Sherwood, Central Point, Canby, Troutdale, Hermiston, Silverton, Hood River, Newport, Prineville, Astoria, Tillamook, Lincoln City, Hillsboro, and Vancouver, Washington.

We also have an office in Minneapolis, Minnesota and take medical malpractice cases throughout the Twin Cities, including St. Paul, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Dakota County, Washington County, Anoka County, Scott County, Blaine, Stillwater, and Saint Paul Minnesota.

For a free case evaluation


(541) 385-1999 in Bend, Oregon
(503) 479-3646 in Portland, Oregon
(612) 444-3374 in Minnesota

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