Experts In Medical Journal Call For Curbing ‘Abuses’ In Overlapping Surgeries


Publish Date:
June 28, 2017
  • Baker, Mike
The Seattle Times
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An opinion piece published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association calls for widespread reforms in how hospitals handle overlapping surgeries and for better research to determine how patients are impacted by the practice.

The article, co-written by one of the journal’s deputy editors and a leading researcher at Stanford, explores how the medical community can restore public trust in overlapping surgeries in the wake of articles published by The Seattle Times and The Boston Globe.

A recent Seattle Times story about Swedish Health’s neuroscience institute examined internal data to show how brain and spine surgeons regularly ran parallel operating rooms for hours at a time. The journal authors, Michelle M. Mello and Dr. Edward H. Livingston, called for “stronger, prospective observational studies and randomized studies.”

“Giving surgeons authority to unilaterally declare what the critical parts of an operation are does not work, as evidenced by the repeated episodes of billing fraud, retaliation against whistleblowers, and loss of public trust,” Mello and Livingston wrote. They believed that surgeons may have their judgment influenced by pressure to generate revenue.

“After staff are educated about the policy, adherence must be documented and actively monitored,” the authors wrote. “These steps can do much to ensure that abuses of overlapping scheduling do not further undermine public trust in the practice of surgery.”

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