Patients are required to put a tremendous amount of trust into their physicians, who perform highly specialized procedures with the potential for tremendous risk. Unless told otherwise, most patients probably assume their surgeon is giving them their undivided attention during an operation. As recent regulatory scrutiny shows, however, the practice of double-booking surgeries occurs in hospitals across the country.
The practice of double-booking works as follows. At teaching hospitals, more experienced surgeons train residents or fellows in performing surgeries. That means the attending, or more senior, surgeon can delegate the task of performing different surgeries to different trainees. In practice, the attending surgeon might perform an operation in one room while having a trainee performing a surgery on a different patient in another room.
Double-booking is not prohibited by law, but the policies of hospitals determine whether or not to allow the practice. Reports have alleged that health complications result from double-bookings. For instance, a Boston Globe investigative report noted examples of patients waiting under anesthesia while hospital staff attempted to locate surgeons who were not present. Trainees ended up performing those surgeries without oversight.
The reasons for why this practice has continued vary depending on who is presenting their case. Hospitals argue that it allows more patients to receive treatment because the surgeries are still performed with the utmost care. Critics say that the practice is about physicians bringing in more revenue because they can bill for multiple surgeries and have trainees perform a portion of them.
The practice has obvious implications for medical malpractice. If surgeries are being performed by unsupervised, inexperienced residents or fellows, the likelihood that something could go wrong increases. New York law imposes a duty, or standard of care, on doctors to treat a patient according to the standards of their medical community. If this standard is breached, the physician acts negligently, and such negligence causes harm to a plaintiff, that could serve as a basis for a medical malpractice lawsuit against the physician and the hospital.
The practice of double-booking divides the attending surgeon’s attention among multiple patients. As a result, an executive from a California-based medical malpractice insurer believes that medical malpractice lawsuits related to double-booking will increase. Moreover, federal lawmakers have investigated the practice and recommended that hospitals prohibit double-bookings, according to a report issued by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee.
If you or a loved one has suffered from hospital malpractice, it’s important to be in contact with an experienced attorney to navigate the New York court system. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers, we have a proven record of results in obtaining settlements and verdicts for people injured by medical mistakes in Syracuse and all over Upstate New York. Call us today for a free initial consultation.
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