“Overlapping Surgeries” generally safe, with two important exceptions

March 25, 2019

Researchers from Harvard Medical School and Stanford University analyzed outcomes in over 65,000 patients in a study designed to evaluate the impact of the common practice of overlapping surgery.  They found that for most patient groups and procedures the practice of overlapping did not increase mortality or complications in the immediate perioperative period.  However, exceptions were found. Specifically, patients deemed high risk – those with a high predicted probability of complications (due to age and preexisting medical conditions) as well as patients undergoing coronary artery bypass experienced higher mortality and complication rates during overlapping surgeries. The lead author of the study, Eric Sun of Stanford University concluded that “While the overall findings of the study suggest that overlapping surgeries appear to be safe, we found evidence that this may not be true for all patients and all procedures,” and that “Improving efficiencies and providing training opportunities should never come at the cost of patient safety.”