Worcester, Massachusetts patients who have to go under the knife for any surgical procedure, and especially a significant one, probably do so under the assumption that their doctor is going to be attending to them in the operating room from the start of the procedure until they are moved into recovery.
This expectation, however, is not in fact always the way things really go in the operating room. Surgeons are permitted in many cases to operate on more than one patient at the same time and then to bill for both surgeries.
While medical professionals seem to have accepted the practice as standard, much like the practice of a dentist going from patient to patient in his or her office, it raised alarm in many quarters. Specifically, there have been allegations, reported in recent years by a major Massachusetts news outlet, that the practice has led to patients getting hurt and surgeons simply not doing the job that they have an ethical and contractual obligation to do.
At least for doctors who bill to government health insurance plans like Medicare, there are guidelines in place to make sure this practice is as safe as possible and that an unqualified person, like a student or resident doctor, do not perform the operation while the attending physician is doing another procedure. However, there is not sign that this practice is going to be banned or sharply curbed in the future.
For now, Worcester residents should keep in mind that if they wake up in a worsened condition following a surgery, one of the contributing factors to the surgery error might be that the doctor he or she expected to be in the operating room was not there for an important part of the process.