Little Rock, AR (Law Firm Newswire) November 28, 2014 - Joan Rivers will always be remembered for her sharp wit, iconic style and acerbic personality. Many also remember how suddenly she died.
“Rivers went for what was to have been a routine outpatient procedure. Something went wrong that caused her to stop breathing and later suffer a heart attack. Did a preventable anesthesiology error happen?” asked Arkansas injury lawyer, Michael Smith. Hospital errors have long triggered medical malpractice lawsuits. Outpatient clinics, which are rarely as fully equipped as hospitals, are open to even more legal issues.
Outpatient clinics, or surgicenters, do not just deal with minor procedures, but also with operations that require the use of anesthesia. When anesthesia is required, a facility must have trained staff and the right equipment, including a crash unit, to deal with any untoward emergencies.
“Outpatient surgical care facilities are so popular because they have a discharge ratio of 30:1 compared to a hospital. They're quick, easy and usually far less expensive than going to a hospital. The patient can normally go home the same day – unless there is a major complication, which most clinics are not able to handle,” Smith added. The presence or absence of the right kind of life-saving equipment is a major concern. Literally, lives may hinge on whether or not the right equipment is on the premises.
When a patient is unconscious, an anesthesiologist controls vital signs and breathing. In a hospital, equipment is on hand for emergencies. Not all outpatient clinics have the kind of tools they need to deal with sudden medical emergencies. What begins as routine surgery may detour into disaster if something goes awry. The Rivers catastrophe is a heads-up for others utilizing outpatient surgery clinics to ask questions. Those considering an outpatient surgery should meet with the prospective surgeon and anesthesiologist to find out if all the proper equipment is on hand – just in case.
Most states do not have regulations to standardize the equipment required on the premises. “Perhaps it is time to take legislative action to address these issues,” suggested Smith.
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