Overlapping surgery is safe, except for high-risk patients: 4 study findings

Concurrent surgeries in which a surgeon runs two operations at once are not significantly associated with higher patient mortality or complication rates for most patients, according to a study published Feb. 26 in JAMA.

For the study, researchers analyzed data on 66,430 knee, hip, spine, brain or heart surgeries involving adult patients at eight healthcare centers. The surgeries occurred between Jan. 1, 2010, and May 31, 2018. In total, 8,224 were overlapping.

Four study findings:

1. Patients involved in overlapping surgeries had a 1.9 percent in-hospital mortality rate, compared to 1.6 percent for patients who underwent nonoverlapping procedures.

2. The complication rates for overlapping and nonoverlapping surgeries were 12.8 percent and 11.8 percent, respectively.

3. Overlapping surgery was also significantly linked to increased surgery length.

4. Researchers found some high-risk groups, such as older patients or those with pre-existing conditions, were more likely to have worse outcomes during overlapping surgeries.

"Further research is needed to understand the association of overlapping surgery with these outcomes among specific patient subgroups," they concluded.

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