Beware Medical Malpractice: Surgery Centers Not Required to Report Deaths

Published on August 16th, 2018

surgery center medical malpracticeColonoscopies are not usually associated with fatalities. At one Little Rock, Arkansas, surgery center, however, two men died and one woman was rushed to the hospital within a span of three months when they stopped breathing soon after their procedures and suffered brain damage. Arkansas, and 16 other states, are not mandated to report patient deaths at surgery centers. But the families of these victims certainly care about the statistics, and what amounts to medical malpractice and wrongful death.

Lack of Oversight at Surgery Centers

Because there is no mandate to report patient deaths, there is no oversight to examine whether the deaths were an anomaly or cause for alarm. The investigation done by the USA TODAY Network and Kaiser Health News uncovered that the rules for surgery centers nationwide are mixed and uneven.

Not only are government officials unaware of serious injuries or fatalities at these centers, potential patients are kept in the dark too. Even Joan Rivers’ 2014 death after a routine procedure did not appear in Medicare’s public record of patients who were sent to a hospital for emergency treatment.

Without consistent oversight, surgery centers can continue to operate. People walk into these clinics anticipating minor procedures and easy recovery, but the place could easily be run by a doctor who has been fired from a hospital for misconduct.

The Norms for Hospital Oversight

Hospitals in the U.S. are scrutinized for unexpected deaths. Knowledge of the details behind one death are used to help prevent the same thing from happening again. The accreditation body for surgery centers do not have similar guidelines.

While plenty of surgery centers do conduct safe and successful routine surgeries every year, from tonsillectomies to knee replacements, problems can and do arise. Paralysis after an epidural pain injection, permanently damaged eyesight after eye surgery. If something goes wrong during a procedure, who can be sued – the doctor, or the surgery center?

Patients – who can essentially be considered as consumers in this situation – have the right to information about each surgery center’s procedures, how many patients were transferred to a hospital because of an emergency, fatalities, and even reviews from former patients. Hospital data is thoroughly reported by the federal government, and covers surgical complications, mortality rates for certain conditions, infection rates, and more. Many surgery centers can pick and choose the information they care to report. This makes it easy to assume that all is well most of the time when, in fact, the very opposite could be true.

Do You Feel Safe at Your Surgery Center?

There are more surgery centers than hospitals, and they are taking on increasingly complex procedures. These are not nighttime clinics that diagnose sinus infections or set broken bones. But Medicare officials have said that surgery centers are permitted to limit their reporting so they are not overburdened by requirements.

Many patients consider surgery centers as small versions of hospitals. They can undergo their needed procedure in the safety and security of a monitored healthcare environment with trusted medical professionals surrounding them. Unfortunately, this is a perception and not necessarily a truth.

If you have lost a loved one to medical malpractice in a surgery center, or if you have suffered your own injuries because of preventable complications at a surgery center, contact the medical malpractice and wrongful death attorneys at Thurswell Law. We have the experience to get you the compensation you deserve. We do not charge any fees unless you collect. Call (248) 354-2222 today to schedule your consultation.

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