Study: Overlapping surgeries prove safe at Mayo

Brian Zimmerman - Print  | 

Coordinating surgeries so a physician has two patients in operating rooms at the same time is safe and produces the same outcomes as non-overlapping surgeries at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., according to a new study published in the Annals of Surgery.

While proponents of concurrent surgeries categorize the practice as an effective method to improve hospital efficiency, the practice has come under scrutiny in major media outlets and drawn concern from U.S. senators.

To evaluate the safety and efficacy of overlapping surgeries, researchers analyzed data from the University HealthSystem Consortium, an academic medical center alliance of which Mayo is a member, on 10,614 overlapping surgeries and 16,111 non-overlapping procedures performed at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Researchers also examined an additional data sample from the American College of Surgeons-National Surgical Quality Improvement Program on more than 10,000 surgeries performed at Mayo in Rochester, 3,000 of which were overlapping procedures. For the additional sample, researchers matched procedures by surgeon. Analysis revealed no difference in outcomes.

"Our data shows that overlapping surgery as practiced here is safe," said study co-author Robert Cima, MD, a colorectal surgeon and chair of surgical quality at Mayo's Rochester campus. "We think it provides value to our patients because it allows more patients timely access to surgery and care by expert teams."

The American College of Surgeons issued new standards earlier this year addressing concurrent surgeries. The ACS did not prohibit the practice, but did say the patient should be informed if the surgeon is involved in more than one operation at a time.

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