Advisory councils are in place to examine practice of concurrent surgeries

Consumers in Massachusetts are understandably concerned about the Globe’s findings that surgeons at Massachusetts General Hospital can be double-booked, at times performing concurrent surgeries on multiple patients, without the knowledge of the patient (“Clash in the name of care,” Page A1, Oct. 25). The story looks at one hospital, but raises important issues around safety, transparency, and patient consent at every hospital in the Commonwealth.

Fortunately, in Massachusetts, we have a built-in mechanism through which to raise the issues of patient-centered care. Since 2008, Massachusetts law has required every hospital to have a Patient and Family Advisory Council. Made up of local volunteers, these committees advocate for meaningful improvements to policies and hospital procedures in and out of the surgical suite.

We encourage every such advisory council to review its hospital's policies concerning concurrent surgeries and engage in a robust discussion about their use and the challenges they may present. Patient and consumer engagement through these councils can ensure that these issues are addressed.

Amy Whitcomb Slemmer
Executive director
Health Care for All