Federal laws permit physicians to steer patients toward private surgical centers for relatively minor procedures. This law enables a surgeon to possibly double his or her profits since he or she typically has ownership in the center. Unfortunately, there is no federal law that requires these centers to report surgical errors that may have lead to a patient’s death. Maine residents who are facing a medical procedure in the future may wish to look into their options before undergoing surgery at these types of clinics.

Recently, journalists from Kaiser Health News and USA Today teamed up to investigate surgical centers and whether they are providing the best care possible during procedures. One of the cases they reviewed involved a 12-year-old male who was undergoing a procedure to remove his tonsils and adenoids — a relatively routine procedure. Sadly, the patient purportedly suffered a reaction to the anesthesia. The center’s staff had to summon emergency responders to try to revive the boy — but to no avail.

Journalists reviewed more than 1,500 complaints and other documents relating to procedures at these clinics. Many of these facilities were found to lack essential life-saving equipment in the event of a serious problem. Furthermore, there is no current federal regulation that requires these types of clinics to report adverse outcomes. An estimated 260 patients have died over the past five years after receiving care at these centers.

Researchers estimate that surgical errors and other types of medical mistakes are now the third highest cause of death in the country. It is believed that if there were more public and federal oversight into these types of facilities, then mortality rates would decline and patients would receive a higher standard of care. Maine residents who have suffered greater physical harm as a result of negligent care are entitled to seek compensation for their related monetary damages through a medical malpractice civil suit.

Source: desmoinesregister.com, “Iowa child death another reminder of need for medical error reporting“, March 20, 2018