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Lack Of Oversight At Surgery Centers Puts Patients At Risk

Idaho medical malpractice attorneyThe surgery center industry is growing faster than the laws that govern it. While hospitals across the nation have strict regulations that ensure detailed reporting of patient complications, such as injuries and deaths, there are few nationwide standards for surgery centers. Those that do exist do not ensure accurate reporting. Worst of all, this situation is costing human lives. 

A Medical Disaster

Seventeen states have no legal requirement to report deaths at recent surgery centers. In Arkansas, according to Kaiser Health News, two deaths in the span of a month at one facility did not raise the need for an investigation, threatening the life of a third patient shortly thereafter. 

In April 2014, two colonoscopy patients from Kanis Endoscopy Center in Little Rock, Arkansas, sustained brain damage similar to that seen in drowning victims. Because the laws of that state do not require that such deaths be reported, there was no investigation by any oversight body, and vital information about the two deaths never went public. A third patient, Faye Watkins, arrived for her own endoscopy that July, unaware of any concern about the facility. She suffered the same symptoms and was saved at a local hospital. 

Examining The Legal Issues

The issue at hand is that decisions about oversight do not come from the same place for surgical centers as they do for hospitals. For the most part, the industries are self-regulating. Laws will often give direction to both hospitals and surgical centers, but their own accreditation bodies are responsible for the details. The largest accreditation bodies for surgical centers simply do not require the same reporting standards that the one for hospitals requires – in fact, they only require that the results for half of all patients at surgical centers be reported at all. Since there is no standard about which half gets reported, centers can skew their data to their benefit and leave out cases which include serious injury or death.  

This is compounded by the fact that on-site enforcement is in the hands of a governing body specific to the surgery center, which often includes the lead surgeon in a significant, if not entirely dominant, role. This, added to limits on enforcement of such facilities, means that even when a center is found to have problems, there is little that can be done to actually hold it accountable. 

One of the few ways to raise awareness about a surgical center and hold it accountable for injuries or deaths is to take direct legal action. If you or a loved one has suffered because of a surgical error, contact us today to learn more about how we can help.  

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