Jury: Double-booked surgery did not lead to injury

From The Globe.

A Boston jury on Monday found that a spine surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital failed to i

nform a Westwood financial analyst that he planned to operate on two patients at once, but the jury concluded that the doctor’s divided attention did not cause the man’s quadriplegia.

As a result the jury awarded Tony Meng, a 45-year-old father of two, no financial damages…

Meng’s disastrous operation figured prominently in a Globe Spotlight Team investigation of simultaneous surgeries at MGH and other teaching hospitals. Many hospitals have since restricted the practice, also known as “concurrent surgery,” and a US Senate committee recently sought to curb it.

Two other former patients of Wood’s have sued him for medical malpractice alleging that double-booking contributed to their complications. One of the patients is former Red Sox relief pitcher Bobby Jenks, who blames Wood for what he alleges was a botched back operation in 2011 that ended his career.

For more on the Globe series, click on the link above or see this interview with Spotlight Team editor Scott Allen

Surgeons, MGH react to to Globe story on surgery scheduling

ss2 (2)Reaction to the Globe’s Spotlight series on simultaneous surgeries — where a surgeon has two operations going at the same time — continues in the paper and beyond

In late December, the paper reported:

 

The American College of Surgeons plans for a roughly 10-member committee — which includes both critics and supporters of concurrent surgeries — to craft a consistent approach to keeping patients safe and informed when doctors run two operating rooms, according to Dr. David Hoyt, executive director of the organization.

“We are going to move as quickly as we can on this,” Hoyt said. “This is a priority.”
A Globe survey of 47 hospitals nationwide found that it is common for surgeons to start a second operation before the first is complete, often after the surgeries were deliberately scheduled to overlap briefly. However, some surgeons have operations that run simultaneously for longer periods. And few hospitals call on doctors to explicitly tell patients when their operations are double-booked.

The paper also ran an editorial cartoon — a surgeon on RollerBlades –with a super long disclosure statement.

MGH got a lot of space in the Sunday “Ideas” section to offer their unfiltered take on the matter, as did this doctor:

When I handle concurrent procedures, I have to carefully design the schedule around when I can and cannot be absent from an operating room. Surgical procedures have “critical” and “noncritical” portions, and this changes on a case-by-case basis depending on the patient and his or her unique problem as well as the team I’m working with. For instance, if I’m working with a brand-new intern, then every moment, from preparation to wake-up, is critical. If I’m working with a seasoned fellow with five years of operating experience, then the critical portions are much more focused.

From the Jan. 10 piece  by Dr. Peter L. Slavin –president of Massachusetts General Hospital  and Dr. Thomas J. Lynch chairman of the Massachusetts General Physicians Organization ran in the Sunday “Ideas” section of the paper

Overlapping surgery occurs at MGH and hospitals throughout the country for a variety of reasons. Overlapping surgery saves lives in certain clinical situations, such as after the Boston Marathon bombings and the Rhode Island Station nightclub fire, when multiple critically ill patients need rapid access to surgical care. Overlapping surgery enhances access to care, helping meet the high demand for certain specialties and specialists.

Partners has also posted detailed comments on its own web site.