US Senators to inquire about concurrent surgeries policy

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has requested information from 20 hospitals regarding their concurrent surgeries processes, according to The Boston Globe.

Sen. Hatch and his committee have asked the hospitals — including Boston-based Partners HealthCare, the parent company of Boston-based Massachusetts General Hospital — for their total number of concurrent surgeries between 2011 and 2015.

"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," Sen. Hatch wrote in a letter to the hospitals, according to the report.

Last year, U.S. Attorney General Carmen Ortiz launched a federal investigation into the double-booking process at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Now, Sen. Hatch's Finance Committee has been prompted to look into the situation because it oversees federal healthcare programs. The Finance Committee has said that its request for information does not qualify it as a full-scale Senate investigation.

The inquiry process has already begun, and members of the Finance Committee met representatives from the American College of Surgeons last week to work on creating a set of guidelines regarding concurrent surgery policies. The Finance Committee and members of the ACS want the guidelines to improve patient transparency and better inform patients about overlapping surgeries.

"That's the crux of informed consent," said Gerald Healy, MD, a member of the ACS. "If I tell you one thing and do another, that's unethical."

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