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When you’re looking for a surgeon, you want someone who has focused experience handling your specialized needs. You wouldn’t ask your family practice doctor to perform open heart surgery, and you wouldn’t ask a geriatrics doctor to give you a face lift. But why not? After all, they’re all doctors.
Everyone knows that medicine is more complicated than that. Surgeons need specialized training to ensure their lack of knowledge does not lead to surgical errors.
In addition to understanding the intricacies of the body parts on which they are operating, surgeons must also have clean space to perform their surgeries. It sounds like an obvious requirement for surgeries, but many surgeons practice in unlicensed offices. In fact, only 21 states — including Pennsylvania — require doctors to have accreditation or licensing in the offices where they perform surgeries.
States that require surgeons to practice out of licensed offices have requirements related to life-saving equipment and drugs, safety procedures, recordkeeping, cleanliness, and anesthesia. The offices are also subject to inspection to make sure those standards are followed.
Several states are working to address the growing problem of “practice drift,” which refers to physicians who work outside of the areas in which they have been trained and board certified. As the popularity of cosmetic surgery rises, some unqualified doctors are looking to make extra money on the side.
These doctors often have shorter waiting periods before surgery, and the surgeries cost less. Although the issue has made it onto the radars of medical boards across the country, the health care community is still searching for solutions.
One attorney spoke about the areas of medicine that have a lucrative appeal. He argues that laws regulating outpatient procedures need to be passed. Ideally the laws would detail training, safety and equipment requirements.
Although many states are looking at that solution, more patients could die long before those laws are implemented. If you are thinking about having an elective surgery completed, it is important to remember that the cheapest or fastest option may be the most expensive in the long run.
Source: USA Today, “State laws on in-office surgeries,” Jayne O’Donnell, Dec. 29, 2011