How Should Trainee Autonomy and Oversight Be Managed in the Setting of Overlapping Surgery?


This case highlights an attending surgeon's conflicts between duty to care for individual patients, train independent surgeons, and serve a patient population in an efficient manner. Although oversight of surgical residents and multiple operating room scenarios can be conducted in an ethical manner, patients might not understand the realities of surgical training and clinical logistics without explicit disclosure. Central to the ethical concerns of the case are the attending surgeon's obfuscation of resident involvement and her insufficient oversight of two concurrent procedures. Full and proper informed consent, increased transparency, better planning, and improved communication could have prevented this difficult situation.