Healthcare Delivery, Quality, and Safety| Volume 286, P85-95, June 2023

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Overlapping Surgeries From the Patient's Perspective

Published:February 15, 2023DOI:



      Overlapping surgery (OS) occurs when a single surgeon is concurrently caring for patients in multiple operating rooms (OR) but is present for all critical portions of each surgery. Although this is common practice, most studies have found public disapproval of OS. This study aims to better understand attitudes toward OS of patients who gave informed consent for OS.


      Participant interviews covered topics including trust, OR personnel roles, and attitudes toward OS. Four representative transcripts were distributed among researchers for independent code identification. These were aggregated into a codebook, applied by two coders. Iterative and emergent thematic analyses were done.


      Twelve participants were interviewed to reach thematic saturation. Three themes shaped how participants felt about OS: trust in their surgeon, worries about OS, and understanding of OR personnel roles. Factors contributing to trust included personal research and the surgeon's experience. Frequently cited concerns were unpredictability of complications during operations and the surgeon's divided attention. Two participants inaccurately understood personnel roles, believing the surgeon did most or all the hands-on work while trainees were observers. Most participants felt a high or neutral level of comfort toward OS and indicated trust as the reason.


      In contrast to prior research, this study found that most participants had a neutral or positive view of OS. This suggests that a trusting relationship with their surgeon and informed consent are important factors in increasing comfort for OS. Participants who misunderstood OR roles felt less comfortable toward OS. This highlights an opportunity for patient education on trainee roles.


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