Feb 27, 2019

Study: "Overlapping surgeries" are safe

In this image, three surgeons stand under bright lights in a dark operating room.

Photo: Getty Images

If you knew your surgeon was doing 2 operations at once, would you be worried? Well, relax. "Overlapping surgeries" are safe, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

How it works: Surgeons will sometimes begin one operation while another one is still underway.

  • "Typically, trainees or nonphysician clinicians perform the less complicated portions of a procedure, while the primary surgeon moves between cases to perform the critical portions of the operations," the JAMA study explains.

It's safe, the study found.

  • This study found that the rates of death and post-surgical complications were about the same for overlapping and non-overlapping surgeries. Previous academic work has reached similar conclusions, though some of those studies were more limited.

Go deeper: The Boston Globe's Spotlight team exposed concerns about the safety of concurrent surgeries — and a fierce internal clash over the practice within Massachusetts General Hospital — in a 2015 investigation.

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