Report: Swedish Health surgeons performed concurrent surgeries without patients' knowledge

Swedish surgeons performed overlapping surgeries, but patients were left in the dark about the practice, according to a new report.

A Seattle-area health system was double-booking surgical procedures, unbeknownst to the patients being treated, according to a new report.

Some of the top neurological and spine surgeons at Swedish Health ran multiple operating rooms at a time, according an investigation from The Seattle Times, leaving less experienced doctors who have undergone specialized training to handle parts of the procedure. Patients were kept in the dark about the practice.

For four of the top surgeons at Swedish, overlapping surgeries accounted for more than half of the procedures they performed. Rod Oskouian, M.D., and David Newell, M.D., both neurosurgeons, performed overlapping surgeries 70% of the time; Johnny Delashaw, M.D., a former neurosurgeon at Swedish, performed double-booked procedures 62% of the time; and Jens Chapman, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon, performed overlapping procedures 51% of the time.

Delashaw, a former star at the hospital, resigned from Swedish following a previous Times investigation that unearthed that once the it was acquired by Providence St. Joseph Health, Swedish was pushed to perform high-cost, high-risk procedures at high volumes to increase revenues.

The newspaper interviewed dozens of patients who underwent surgery at Swedish, including 13 who were treated in double-booked procedures. None recalled being told the surgeon would not be in the room for the entire procedure. Christopher Smythies, M.D., a neurosurgeon in Seattle who works for MultiCare Health and said he does not overbook patients, told the publication that double-booking is common in large medical centers, and patients are often notified of the practice in consent agreements they don’t closely read.

“I don’t think patients pay close enough attention to consents and probably don’t ask enough questions,” he said.

RELATED: World-renowned doctor under scrutiny for concurrent surgeries

Other doctors have come under fire recently for double-booking surgeries, FierceHealthcare has previously reported. David B. Samadi, M.D., chairman of urology at Lenox Hospital and a world-renowned surgeon known for robotic prostate procedures, also allegedly double-booked patients improperly. Despite the controversy, Samadi said he stands by his record and reputation.

“I assure all my patients that I am there when my skills are promised and required. Every patient gets that same level of care by me and my team,” he said.

There is an upside, though, for some doctors: double-booking is a potential solution to keep operating rooms humming when patients with a known history of missing appointments don't show up.