Few people know surgeons conduct concurrent surgeries, survey finds

Less than 4 percent of respondents to an online survey knew anything about the practice of overlapping surgeries, according to findings published in the Journal of American College of Surgeons.

The 51-question survey was completed by 1,454 respondents using Amazon Mechanical Turk, an online crowd-sourcing worksite. Just 54 of those respondents (3.9 percent) reported having prior knowledge of concurrent surgery, in which a senior surgeon performs the most critical parts of an operation and leaves another qualified clinician to perform the noncritical components.

After learning what concurrent surgery was, only 440 people (31 percent) supported or strongly supported the practice. A vast majority said surgeons should inform patients in advance of an overlapping surgery (94.7 percent), should define what the critical components of an operation are (95.6 percent) and document what parts of the operation he or she is present for (91.5 percent).

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"The present study strongly suggests that the general public is not aware of overlapping surgery, and that the practice should be disclosed during the informed consent process," the study authors concluded.

Concurrent surgeries became a contentious point in the medical community and public at large in 2016:

  • In March, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee asked 20 hospitals to describe their policies for concurrent surgeries.
  • In April, the American College of Surgeons issued standards for surgeons performing simultaneous procedures. "The patient needs to be informed in either of these circumstances," according to the standards. "The performance of overlapping procedures should not negatively impact the seamless and timely flow of either procedure."
  • In December, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee released a report deeming concurrent surgeries as unsafe and called on hospitals to ban the practice.
  • Also in December, a study from Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic showed outcomes of concurrent surgeries are the same as outcomes of non-overlapping surgeries.

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