Operations Management for hospitals, healthcare providers, and outpatient units that provide surgical services encounter several challenges with respect to managing census and providing services in a timely, cost-effective operation. One central challenge that has gained traction in the press is that on the instances of double-booked surgeries. As the name suggests, double-booked surgeries refers to the practice in which a lead surgeon, and potentially a lead anesthesiologist, is assigned to more than one surgery scheduled in the same time-slot. In this manner, the lead physician will typically execute the major or most complex parts of the surgery, leaving the simpler elements to physicians-in-training, e.g. residents and/or fellows. In many ways, the process of double-booking surgeries is treated as an educational training tool. Junior physicians are able to observe experts in the field, while also taking on significant surgical tasks that will mirror their clinical responsibilities as full-time, attending physicians. However, there are also potential downsides to the practice as detailed in the literature, namely that double-booked surgeries may pose a risk to the patient, and can be logistically difficult to execute from the management perspective. This article will detail the challenges associated with double-booking surgeries for anesthesiologists and practice managers, while also considering the impact to patient population.
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