Emory study: Neurosurgeons can run 2 operations at once without endangering patients

Concurrent surgeries in which a surgeon runs two operations simultaneously are safe for neurosurgery patients, according to a study published in JAMA Surgery.

Many members of the healthcare community have questioned the safety of concurrent surgeries after The Boston Globe's Spotlight Team released a controversial report about Boston-based Massachusetts General Hospital's use of the surgical practice in 2015. In 2016, Congress called on hospitals to ban concurrent surgeries.

To assess the safety of this practice in the neurosurgery field, researchers assessed 2,275 neurosurgeries performed at Emory University Hospital from January 2014 through December 2015. A total of 972 surgeries were nonoverlapping, while 1,303 were overlapping. Researchers compared deaths, complications and patient functional status at 90-days post-surgery for patients who underwent both types of procedures. Patients in both study groups experienced comparable rates of mortality, complications and functional status, suggesting no difference in procedural safety.

"These data suggest that overlapping neurosurgery is safe and has the potential to benefit patients by maximizing efficiency and making highly sought-after specialists available to a greater number of patients," concluded the study's authors. "An evidence-based approach to policy surrounding [overlapping surgery] is crucial not only to maximize patient safety but also to make highly specialized surgical care available to as many patients as possible."

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