Sunday, December 6, 2015

Big hospitals forget who is important - the patient

A while back I read an article about how surgeons at Mass General were double booked for surgery and the hospital policy was okay with this. Double booking is when the surgeon is responsible for two surgeries going on at the same time. A follow up was published yesterday to show the results of this expose and whistle blowing by Dr. Dennis Burke.

"Burke was at the center of the Globe Spotlight Team’s report in October about the propriety and safety of a fairly common practice called concurrent surgery, or double-booking, in which doctors work on more than one patient at a time."
And as long as the doctor is within 1/4 mile of the hospital during both surgeries this is okay. And that's the new policy instituted by MGH as a result of the story. Really? I don't consider this that okay at all. I would not want the patient where the surgeon wasn't even in the room. I assume the surgeon is responsible for the surgery should be in the room at all time.

Burke is uncompromising on the issue. He called it unsafe and unethical, embracing a cautious approach that I think most of us expect from the doctor wielding the scalpel.The hospital's response to this article was appalling. They fired the man who spoke up about this issue. He was a physician at the hospital and ended up moving on to a new hospital, and all his patients followed him.

The hospital disagreed. MGH said it has taken careful steps to assure patient safety. The hospital accused Burke of violating hospital rules and perhaps federal privacy laws by supplying the Globe with copies of some internal records.
Being a whistle blower is a hard thing to do. And by being fired by the hospital, he has become a hero to others. 

"Burke thinks MGH and its advisers blundered by terminating him. “Probably the stupidest thing they did was to fire me,’’ he said. “If they didn’t, this wouldn’t be such a big story.’’

But it is. And that may explain why nearly 300 people turned out at the Fairmont Copley Plaza on Friday afternoon during a risk management seminar sponsored by Harvard Medical School to hear Burke’s version of events and why he believes concurrent surgery is unacceptable.

When he was done, the audience stood as one amid resounding applause." 

Who do you want for your surgeon? One that is up to 1/4 mile away while you are in the OR or the one who said this was wrong? The patient is the most important person here and their safety should be utmost.

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