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Opinion: ‘Overlapping surgery’ is safe for most patients, but not all

Overlapping surgery, in which a surgeon works on two operations scheduled at the same time, has risks as well as benefits.
Source: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Tens of millions of Americans undergo surgery each year. They expect their surgeon to be in the operating room for the entire procedure. That’s not always the case — the surgeon may have two operations scheduled at the same time.

Although the notion of a surgeon being in two places at once may seem worrisome, our new research suggests that overlapping surgery is generally a safe practice. There are some groups, however, for which it may not be.

Operating rooms are costly to run and wait times for skilled surgeons can be long. The pressure to. When doing this, surgeons typically delegate the routine parts of an operation, like suturing an incision, to physician assistants or surgical trainees, while they perform the critical parts of an overlapping case in a different operating room.

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