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Hospital vs Surgery Center for My Procedure?

SURGERY CENTER OR HOSPITAL, FOR MY PROCEDURE?  Bonnie Navin, Medical MalPractice Attorney, Rubenstein Law 

The recent USA Today (Weekend) article of March 3, 2018, entitled, “How a push to cut costs and boost profits at surgery centers lead to a trail of death” has raised the serious need to revisit the decision to have your surgery performed in a surgery center versus a hospital. As a medical malpractice attorney, there is no way I would schedule a procedure at a surgery center for myself or a loved one for the simple fact a hospital is better set up for an emergency. Even the simplest procedure can lead to serious injury or even death, especially when undergoing general anesthesia. While most surgical centers have emergency drills these routinely fail when presented with a real-life emergency. These failures include:

  • Expired emergency medications
  • Inability to locate and properly use supplemental oxygen
  • Sheer panic of a staff faced with an emergency crisis

To really understand the magnitude of emergencies that lead to reported incident reports in Florida, see this report. Or to view by location go here or view by quarter here.  These reports allow you to break down by type of provider.

If faced with the only choice being a surgical center for your care then be sure to ask informed questions, well in advance, and make some specific demands.

First, ask what plan is in place in the case of an emergency.

  • Ask what hospital receives your patients if an emergency presents that the facility cannot handle.
  • Ask how long the anesthesiology provider and doctor performing the procedure will stay on site after the end of your procedure since more complications arise in the recovery room after a procedure than during the procedure itself. What if your doctor and/or anesthesiologist have left and only a registered nurse is left behind to care for you during a complication?

Second, require that your procedure not be on a Friday when chances are you will be discharged in the late afternoon and have no one to contact if you arrive home and have concerns during your recovery. If your procedure is during the week ask for the first procedure spot in the morning so that there is ample time to properly recover. All too often surgery centers discharge patients before the Aldrete Score has been documented because they want to close up for the day. An Aldrete Score is a medical scoring system for the measurement of recovery after anesthesia which includes activity, respiration, consciousness, blood circulation, and color. This includes documentation of moving extremities, proper breathing, blood pressure changes and the skin color. All may be signs of impending doom. Discuss with your loved one entrusted with your transportation home to inquire of the staff if an Aldrete evaluation was done to ensure you are being discharged appropriately.

For more information on the hospital you choose, check out Leapfrog Group. The Leapfrog Group is a watchdog organization that collects pertinent data on hospital quality statistics.

Be an informed patient and family member!