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What Are Ghost Surgeries?

Have you ever wondered what happens to a surgical operation when the entrusted surgeon did not show up in the operating room to perform surgery for their patients? What certain measures do hospitals or professionals do when they are faced with a life and death situation?

It is no doubt that the responsibilities of health practitioners are intense since the lives of a person are entrusted to them. But to what extent can these health practitioners, to be specific, surgeons, go to, in order to save a patient on the brink of a flatline?

In this article, you will be learning about one of the most questionable and unethical practices within the surgical field called “ghost surgery”.

What is a Ghost Surgery?

First of all, what did it mean by extreme measures? Is it really controversial? Well, in this case, wherein the life of a person and job of a person is on the line, it is extreme and dangerous. A ghost surgery refers to the surgical process that was performed by a different surgeon instead of the one who was given the consent by the family or the patient to perform the surgery on their relative or the patient themself.

Ghost surgeries are considered highly unethical and illegal since the surgery was not performed in accordance with the ethics and rules inside the medical establishment. It is important to take note that the chosen surgeon by the patient is not interchangeable and they are the only ones who have to perform the surgery.

Why is Ghost Surgery Performed?

A ghost surgery is agreed upon by surgeons and the patient has no knowledge about it since the surgeons would switch places once the patient is sedated or anesthetized.

Just like what is previously mentioned, health practitioners will do what it takes just to save their patients which is why some surgeons perform ghost surgeries whether they like it or not, they have no choice but to go against moral ethics.

Another legitimate reason as to why a ghost surgery will also occur if there is a situation that the consented surgeon to perform the surgery was suddenly dealt with a sudden emergency and had to manage it immediately.

Is Ghost Surgery Legal?

To answer this question, no, performing a ghost surgery is nowhere legal and it is punishable by law.

Before performing surgery, no matter what type it is, a surgeon will have to provide a rundown or an explanation of what is going to the surgery or what are the processes that will take place in the surgery in order to prepare the patient for the possible outcomes once the surgery has finished.

If in a dire situation wherein the unassigned surgeon performs a ghost surgery and a surgical error takes place, the patient will have no idea about the identity of the surgeon who operated on them. The patient might decide to pursue a medical lawsuit to seek recovery from the surgical error. The patient could sue the hospital or medical establishment for letting the ghost surgery happen despite how illegal it is, and they could also sue the surgeon who injured them during the operation, and as well as the surgeon who did not attend the operation and passed it to a different surgeon instead.

What are the Consequences of Performing Ghost Surgeries?

If a patient believes to be a victim of medical malpractice, they will have to contact their lawyers after they have recovered from the surgery and try to find solid evidence to support their case because filing a lawsuit about medical malpractice is one of the most complex injuries claims, and once the lawsuit is successful, the patient who filed the lawsuit will receive compensation for the malpractice.

As for the sued surgeons or ghost surgeons, there is a possibility that the medical practitioners who performed the ghost surgery could serve their sentence in prison for a few years and they might also be fined for their unethical practice in the medical field. There is also a possibility that they could have their license revoked.

How to Reduce the Risk of a Ghost Surgery?

Despite how common performing ghost surgeries are in hospitals, there is still a higher possibility for risk in malpractices which is why this segment of the article, will state a few possible actions for damage control. First of all, to reduce the risk of danger in performing ghost surgeries, a patient should ask questions to a doctor they find comfortable with. It is a patient’s right to research about their doctor’s education to ensure them that they are in the safe hands of a potential doctor they might choose and to also make sure that the doctor they are thinking of working with has excellent ratings from other former patients, colleagues, and their seniors.

Some questions for informational purposes to hold a potential surgeon accountable include:

  • May I know who is the surgeon who will perform my surgery?
  • How long would the surgical process take?
  • Which parts of the surgery will a surgeon taking their residency (resident) be allowed to perform?
  • What happens in the operation if the assigned surgeon is unavailable?
  • What should I feel once I wake up?

As for the practicing surgeons who will perform the surgery and in a dire situation when they must perform a ghost surgery, they could reduce the risk of an unsuccessful surgical operation on their patients by consulting their seniors about the surgery they will perform on a patient for the purposes of gaining more knowledge about what could possibly happen in the operation and the surgeons could easily find a best solution or way to rectify the situation if it happens to go awry.

The Bottomline

Despite how questionable and unethical the practice of ghost surgery is, there are some instances or situations that are unavoidable and could lead to a sudden change of course in which in this article, talk about the substitution of surgeons without the patients knowing. The whole notion is stuck in the grey area because there are some factors or excuses that could consider ghost surgery as a necessity especially when a patient is in a critical condition.

Pretty much so, this article somewhat expresses that a person will have to expect the unexpected even in the professional field of medicine.


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