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Outpatient surgery centers raise concerns

When a New Mexico patient needs to undergo a procedure, they may be apprehensive if their surgery is scheduled to be done at an outpatient surgery center. With the death of Joan Rivers, a famous comedian who died while undergoing an elective surgery at an outpatient clinic, concerns have been raised regarding the safety of these centers.

Rivers died at 81 years of age on Sept. 4 after she suffered brain damage while undergoing a throat procedure at an outpatient surgery center. Following her death, federal officials found numerous violations at the clinic where the operation occurred during an investigation. The violations included failure to take action to correct deteriorating vital signs, failure to weigh the patient and the performance of a procedure for which the patient did not give consent. The outpatient center's officials stated that they corrected the deficiencies, but they must pass an unannounced inspection.

In a 2013 study, seven risk factors were found to be associated with outpatient surgery centers. These risk factors were associated with serious complications that occurred within 72 hours of surgery. These complications resulted in the death of about 0.1 percent of patients. A second study found that approximately one out of every 1000 patients required hospitalization for a complication immediately following the surgery.

If a patient suffers a complication due to overmedication or a medical error, they may have the grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against both the staff members that were part of the procedure and the outpatient center or hospital. If the patient suffered a serious injury because of a complication, they may have the ability to recover the cost of any medical treatment, the cost of hospitalization, and pain and suffering.

Source: Medpage Today, "Popularity of Outpatient Surgery Centers Leads to Questions About Safety", Sandra G. Boodman, December 18, 2014

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