Virginia Mason joins Swedish Health and the University of Washington with updated consent documents that inform surgical patients about the prospect of overlapping surgeries.

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Virginia Mason Medical Center has adopted a new consent-for-surgery process that informs patients about the prospect of overlapping procedures.

Virginia Mason joins Swedish Health, which began testing a new form for neurosurgery patients last month, and the University of Washington, which began using a new form in April.


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In the past, consent forms from all three institutions spoke generally about the role played by care teams and assistants but didn’t say that surgeons may be running multiple operating rooms at the same time. Swedish and UW have added that information to the consent form patients sign. Virginia Mason has created a one-page informational sheet that will be given to patients during the consent process.

“Your Responsible Physician may not be in the room with your care team for noncritical portions of your procedure,” the form says. Virginia Mason’s form tells patients that their surgeon may begin to get involved in the care of another patient “after the critical portions of your procedure are completed.”

The issue of double-booked surgeries was a component of a Seattle Times investigative piece in February about surgeries at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute. The Times explored the issue further last month, with a story showing how often surgeries overlapped at the institute and how many surgeries ran parallel to each other for hours.

Virginia Mason spokesman Gale Robinette said the organization has been working on the informational sheet for more than a year. Medical-staff leaders approved the new form on Wednesday and plan to begin using it in the coming weeks, he said.

[Podcast: Investigative reporter Mike Baker on double-booked surgeries and patients in jeopardy]