This week, both Northwell Health of New York and Massachusetts General Hospital agreed to pay millions of dollars to settle medical malpractice cases related to concurrent surgery. Double-booked surgery also called simultaneous surgery or concurrent surgery is a recently new practice implemented by hospitals all over the country during which a surgeon is involved in two or more surgeries in different operating rooms at the same time. While some medical studies have been backing this practice other studies have pointed out the resulting complications and inherent safety risks to patients. Last year in their Trial Advocacy Column in the New York Law Journal, Ben Rubinowitz and and Evan Torgan raised the alarm about this practice.
Deadly negligence and fraud
The case settled by Northwell Health of New York claimed that Dr David Samadi, urologist at Lenox Hill Hospital who raised to fame after performing several prostate surgeries on celebrities was allowing urologist residents to perform conventional surgical procedures in a room while performing high risk complex robot-assisted surgeries in another room. The surgeon would shuttle back and forth between the operating rooms during the simultaneous procedures. The hospital would then bill Medicare for the procedures performed by the unsupervised trainees. The practice of upping Dr Samadi’s salary for referring more patients to Medicare is illegal. It violates the federal Stark Law. Dr Samadi was one of the highest paid surgeon in the US. In 2017 his salary was estimated at $6.8 million. Several patients died after undergoing surgery with him and many others suffered post surgery complications.
In the case settled by Massachusetts General Hospital, Dennis Burke a former orthopedic surgeon who was fired by MGH was awarded $13 million. Dr Burke lost his job after he raised patient safety concerns related to simultaneous surgeries performed by his colleagues. As part of the settlement, MGH also offered to re-hire the orthopedic surgeon, which he declined, and named one of the hospital safety initiatives after him.
Read more in the Boston Globe
Dowload Ben Rubinowitz and Evan Torgan’s article
Picture of a modern operating room by By Piotr Bodzek, MD – Uploaded from http://www.ginbytom.slam.katowice.pl/25.html with author permission., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=372117