Interesting article in a recent Medscape –
At Mass. General, Attending Physicians — fully trained surgeons who are supposed to be supervising doctors in training – often intentionally leave the trainee alone to do surgery and only come in to the operating room if the trainee calls for help, and the “supervising” surgeon is actually available to come (article points out that commonly, the attending surgeon is supervising surgeries at two different hospitals at the same time, obviously making the ability to respond to a time-critical emergency somewhat difficult).
The practice, which has been going on for decades, was uncovered by the Boston Globe in a Spotlight series. The orthopedic surgeon who cooperated with the Globe to publicize the practice was stripped of his clinical privileges. Now, because of pressure from the public, supervising surgeons are allowed to “supervise” multiple surgeries simultaneously only if the the operating rooms are no more than a quarter of a mile away from each other!!!
This “double booking” practice is widespread throughout the US, and not uncommonly has devastating results. For example, recently a surgeon who was supposed to be supervising an orthopedic procedure on a child in Florida was not present, and the trainee operated on the wrong leg.
Can you imagine getting on an airplane where both of the pilots were trainees and a fully qualified pilot was only available after a delay of at least several minutes to help them after an emergency situation occurred? Would you get on that airplane?
This situation is one of many reasons I recommend you should NEVER be admitted to a training hospital unless absolutely necessary, and as I suggested in a previous post, you should endeavor to avoid hospitals entirely. If you are admitted, you and your attending doctor should discuss who will be caring for you and how any trainees will be supervised.
Why is this happening? It’s all about the money. The attending surgeon bills for the procedure, even if he never stepped in the room. The resident pulls a low fixed salary until he too graduates and starts making a large salary by billing for stuff he never actually does….
It’s fraud, in my opinion.