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Surgical errors and outpatient surgery centers

People in Illinois are increasingly scheduled for surgery at outpatient surgery centers in lieu of having the procedure take place in a hospital. These centers have surged in popularity, touting sleek facilities and the ability for patients to go home the same day.

Unlike hospitals, many outpatient surgery centers are not equipped to adequately handle complications that may occur. The recent death of Joan Rivers following routine throat surgery at an outpatient center underscores the problems that can happen with surgery performed in these settings.

In 2013, a study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan revealed seven risk factors that could potentially lead to death or serious complications within three days of receiving outpatient surgery. The risk factors included surgery performed on people who are overweight or have respiratory diseases. Another study performed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2010 revealed that 66 percent of the facilities had problems with infection control, potentially leading to serious post-operative infections. When surgical errors occur at outpatient centers, patients often need transport to a hospital, potentially causing waits before needed emergency help is received. The centers generally have less reporting requirements and are far less regulated than are hospitals, leading to additional concerns.

A person who is scheduled for routine surgery most likely does not think that a surgical error during a minor procedure could potentially lead to serious injury or death. Unfortunately, these accidents can and do occur. People who require a minor procedure should make certain the facility is equipped to handle emergencies that may arise during or immediately following surgery. A person who is injured due to a surgical error made at an outpatient center may wish to consult with a medical malpractice attorney in order to determine the remedies that may be available.

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

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