Purpose Following the recent publication of an article in The Boston Globe “exposing” the common practice of scheduling and performing concurrent surgeries, there has been much discussion amongst both the lay press and hospital administrators seeking to ensure the safety of patients by investigating and regulating this cost-effective strategy. However, there is little information about the practice of performing concurrent surgeries in pediatric patients; even less is known about parents’ expectations regarding the role of the surgeon on the day of surgery and how these expectations align with those of pediatric surgeons and surgical trainees. Significant discrepancies between the two can erode trust in the surgeon and damage the physician-family relationship, ultimately undermining the ability of the surgeon to provide high-quality care. The purpose of this study is to characterize differences between parents’ and surgeons’ expectations regarding the degree to which pediatric attending surgeons should be involved during various points before, during, and after a surgical case. Methods In this IRB-approved study, a Likert-style survey designed to identify attitudes and beliefs regarding the role of the pediatric surgeon in delivering patient care was administered to eligible parents of pediatric patients undergoing surgery at our institution (Figure 1). Basic demographic data including age, sex, and type of procedure were collected for each patient. The same survey was anonymously administered to a group of surgeons and surgical residents from the same institution. In addition to completing the survey, each surgeon and trainee was asked if he/she was also a parent. Student’s t-tests were used to determine significant differences between the parent and surgeon groups. Results 107 parents and 89 pediatric surgeons and trainees from 8 surgical specialties completed the survey. Average parent Likert scores ranged from 4.15 to 4.89, while average surgeon scores ranged from 2.75 to 4.86 (Table 1). There was a statistically significant difference (p < 0.05) between parent and surgeon responses for all questions, with the exception of the statement: “The surgeon should be present and scrubbed for the critical components of the case.” Statistically significant differences were also seen between responses from attending surgeons versus surgical residents, and between surgeons who are parents versus those who are not. Conclusion There is a significant mismatch between the expectations of parents of children undergoing surgery and the expectations of pediatric surgeons regarding the role of the surgeon in delivering patient care on the day of surgery, with parents consistently expecting more direct involvement of the attending surgeon. These discrepancies have implications for both parent/patient satisfaction and resident education. Going forward, efforts to ensure transparency and educate patients and families about the distinct roles of each member of the surgical team will serve to strengthen family-physician relationships and the quality of care delivery.

Figure 1

Likert-style survey.

Figure 1

Likert-style survey.

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Table 1

Average Likert scores (scale of 1-5) for parents and surgeons.

Table 1

Average Likert scores (scale of 1-5) for parents and surgeons.

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