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Overlapping surgery could violate informed consent

When Pittsburgh residents need surgery they usually go through a series of checks to make sure they can have the surgery and what the risks and benefits of the surgery are going to be. Most surgeries go as planned but occasionally an unexpected surgical error occurs that can lead to devastating results including a serious injury.

Before most surgeries begin, informed consent is needed from the patient. Informed consent is the process of getting permission to perform the surgery. It includes the doctor discussing with patients their diagnosis, their treatment choices, risks involved with the treatment and the prognosis. In Massachusetts, a debate is ongoing that could affect surgeries across the United States.

At one Massachusetts patients were having surgeries with surgeons who had over lapping surgery schedules. The patients were not made aware of this practice during their informed consent. In addition, surgical residents and fellows were performing all of the surgery instead of the surgeon. Because of this practice, the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine is requiring that surgeons sign in and out every time they enter or leave the operating room. This is bound to have national implications as this board is the first board in the country to require their surgeons to adhere to this practice. It is expected that medical boards across the country will follow Massachusetts’s lead as up to 15 percent of surgeries across the country involve surgical overlap.

When a patient’s trust has been violated it can significantly harm the doctor patient relationship. If people believe that they did not receive adequate informed consent prior to their surgery they may want to speak with a legal professional skilled in medical malpractice.

Source: Medscape.com, “Overlapping surgeries push Massachusetts board to alter rules,” Marcia Frellick, Jan. 15, 2016