A lawsuit filed by a former anesthesiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital charges that scheduling two or more operations at the same time leads to doctor negligence.
In her whistleblower suit, Dr. Lisa Wollman also said that doctors had committed billing fraud with overlapping surgeries. Doctors would charge Medicare and Medicaid for operations even though they were not present for critical parts of the procedures. According to Wollman, the hospital encouraged over-booking because it made more money for them. She noted that patients rarely knew that their surgeon was not always in the operating room during the whole procedure. The situation led to cases of doctor negligence.
Over Booking Leads to Doctor Negligence
She said in her lawsuit that double booking surgeries put patients at risk for injury. “This often meant an unwitting patient was left fully anesthetized — unconscious, paralyzed, intubated, dependent on a ventilator to breathe — for longer than medically necessary, often in the care of trainees, without the backup of a properly qualified surgeon, despite legal requirements.”
According to recent studies, prolonged anesthesia can lead to long-term cognitive problems, like confusion and memory problems.
The Boston Globe brought attention to the practice of overbooking surgeries at Mass General and other teaching hospitals around the country in a story in 2015. In the story, some hospital staff voiced concerns that surgeons endangered patients by not being present when complications arose.
The story led to an investigation by the US Senate Finance Committee, which called for a ban on the practice.
Last year, the Florida Department of Health charged a prominent West Palm Beach doctor with two cases of wrong-site surgery involving overbooking. The department later dismissed the complaints. Double-booking surgery can be a form of doctor negligence which may result in a medical malpractice lawsuit.