Regardless of whether you have a surgical procedure done at a surgery center or hospital, you expect those in charge of your surgery to provide the same level of competency and safe care before, during, and after surgery. However, the statistics are revealing significant inadequacies when it comes to the resources and oversight associated with surgery centers and the subsequent impact on the quality of care patients receive at these centers.
According to an investigation recently carried out by USA Today Network and Kaiser Health News, 17 states across the nation are not required to report the death of patients in the wake of care they received a surgery centers. Due to the absence of this reporting mandate, there exists no oversight authority to evaluate whether these deaths are cause for concern or a mere statistical anomaly.
Inconsistent reporting rules among surgery centers
According to the report, surgery centers across the U.S. operate under such widely varying regulations that government entities and potential patients are not properly informed regarding the history of deaths and serious injuries at these facilities. Surgery centers are able to continue operating even after they have been subjected to federal sanctions due to the lack of oversight involved. The rules are so lax that a surgeon fired from a hospital for medical misconduct may simply set up shop elsewhere at his or her own surgery center in the same town or city. These oversight gaps are becoming more pervasive as the number of surgery centers – some 5,600 in the nation – is surpassing the number of hospitals.
The death of comedian Joan Rivers is a case in point. In 2014, Ms. Rivers lost her life after undergoing a routine surgical procedure at a surgery center in New York. However, her case, which involved a patient rushed to the hospital, did not appear in Medicare’s public record.
Patient tragedies at surgery centers
Numerous other patients and their families not receiving the type of exposure as Joan Rivers’ case have suffered significantly due to surgical errors committed at surgery centers across the US. For instance, a 66-year-old woman in Georgia lost her life during eye surgery. A 33-year-old man in Missouri lost his life during finger surgery. A 60-year-old man in Oklahoma underwent hip replacement surgery and subsequently died. Robin Smith won a $14.9 million lawsuit in Colorado after an epidural injection of steroids left him paralyzed from the waist down.
Unfortunately, lack of oversight is a serious issue that can lead to preventable patient harm and, at times death. If a surgery center procedure has left you or a loved one injured, you may have the right to obtain financial recovery for your losses through a surgery malpractice claim.
Medical malpractice cases stemming from surgery center errors
Medical malpractice at a surgery center involves any type of wrongdoing, error, or misconduct by medical staff that results in patient harm, injury, or death. A successful medical malpractice case is possible when an attorney representing the injured patient can show that the surgeon failed to uphold the proper standard of care expected of all surgeons in a particular locality or region (for example, in Washington D.C. or West Virginia). As well, it must be established that the failure to provide this standard of care was the direct reason for the patient’s injury or death.