Pennsylvania Surgeon Books Concurrent Surgeries
A cardiothoracic surgeon at UPMC in western PA was part of a 2-year investigation. The federal investigation found Dr. James Luketich and UPMC tried to cover up practices that harmed patients. Investigators found Dr. Luketich would book concurrent surgeries, increasing the probability of surgical errors and putting patients at risk.
2-Year Federal Investigation
The federal investigation was searching for evidence of false billing practices by Dr. Luketich, University of Pittsburgh Physicians, and UPMC. What the investigation found was worse. Dr. Luketich was participating in multiple surgeries at the same time, often referred to as “concurrent” surgeries.
Concurrent surgeries are the dangerous practice of scheduling multiple surgeries at the same time. The surgeon will step into the operating room for portions of the surgery and then move to the next patient before the first surgery is complete. A surgeon might move back and forth between multiple surgeries, performing different steps in each operating room.
This is dangerous because the surgeon might make mistakes. The surgeon must also be available to address any complications that arise at any point in the surgery. If the surgeon isn’t in the room, any delay can cause serious harm to the patient.
Harm To Patients
Dr. Luketich was booking concurrent surgeries. Evidence shows the surgeries were not always on the same floor or even in the same building. This is especially troubling because of the intense time and attention needed for cardiothoracic surgeries. The investigation found some of Dr. Luketich’s patients did experience harm and complications related to prolonged exposure to anesthesia.
Surgeon Not Present During Surgery
The surgeon would move between operating rooms – sometimes in different buildings – for surgeries on multiple patients. Evidence shows the doctor would participate in meetings or hospital admin duties while his patients were waiting under general anesthesia in the operating room. Dr. Luketich had a long pattern of not being physically present during surgeries. He would leave before his portion of the surgery was complete. Dr. Luketich would not respond to calls or texts and hospital staff would be unable to locate him. While it is technically not illegal to book multiple concurrent surgeries, it does increase the risk of mistakes and/or harm to each patient.
Not The Only Surgeon
We want to be clear, in many cases there were other surgeons involved in these complex surgeries. Cardiothoracic surgeries involve a team of medical professionals, often more than one surgeon. Dr. Luketich was required for specific steps in each surgery, but many times the surgical team could not locate him. This meant patients were kept under anesthesia much longer than normal.
Complications From Prolonged Anesthesia
It is well-documented that prolonged exposure to anesthesia increases surgical complications. Complication rates escalate after 5 hours of exposure. Surgeons must make an effort to complete every surgery in a timely manner. This is especially important in cardiothoracic surgeries that typically take several hours to perform.
If a surgeon leaves the operating room, it can cause a delay in the surgery. Any unnecessary delays cause prolonged exposure to anesthesia. If the delay was avoidable, the harmful complications are also avoidable.
Delays Cause Harm To Patients
In the investigation against Dr. James Luketich, several of his patients suffered avoidable complications. Investigators found unnecessary delays caused pressure ulcers (bed sores), deep tissue injuries, and more. At least 2 patients required amputations linked to prolonged exposure to general anesthesia.
In this situation, Dr. James Luketich and UPMC engaged in dangerous practices to increase profits. Booking concurrent surgeries harmed patients so the doctor and hospital could make more money in the same amount of time. This level of negligence should be punished with a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor and the hospital.
When To Contact A Medical Malpractice Attorney
When the actions or neglect of a medical professional cause serious harm to the patient, there may be compensation available. Contact a medical malpractice attorney at Haggerty Silverman & Justice for a free consultation. You don’t pay us anything unless we recover money for you.