Image with Commentary

May 2016

"Ghost Surgery" refers to neither ghosts performing surgery nor surgery on ghosts. Rather, the term is a pejorative term referring to surgery performed by someone unknown to the patient. This term presumes a personal (and legal) relationship between the surgeon and the patient which is violated if a person, regardless of skill, assumes the role of surgeon.

This concept behind "Ghost Surgery" is increasingly less relevant as more surgical interventions are performed by teams rather than individuals. The team offers many advantages over the individual, providing 24/7 coverage as well as additional depth of skill. Surgical procedures lasting many hours, such as transplantation, would be impractical without the availability of a team. As teams grow larger, the ability of a patient to identify the role of a single surgeon may be lost.

The image shows the ghostly images of surgeons gathered under OR lights performing a complex abdominal operation. Someday when surgery is performed by robots, clever marketing firms may personify these marvels of medical technology with names like R2D2, C3PO or BB-8. (2015)

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