Surgery Centers: Unprepared for Crisis

Surgical centers are often unprepared for crisis, putting patients at risk every time they go under the knife. There are more than 5,600 surgical centers in the United States and many place profits over patient safety. Patients who receive treatment in these centers are at considerable risk of serious injury or death.

Cost Cutting Puts Patient Health in Jeopardy

Surgical centers were created to provide cost-effective surgeries in a convenient, usually outpatient setting. The idea was that smaller centers could operate more efficiently and with less overhead than hospitals, thus making them able to provide minor surgical procedures at a lower cost. However, this convenience comes at a detrimental cost to safety that is carried by patients who receive treatments in these centers.

Since 2013, 260 patients have died in surgical centers and many thousands more have suffered serious injuries. Many of these have occurred following routine procedures such as colonoscopies or tonsillectomies.

911 as a Backup

Each year, surgical centers contact 911 services regarding patients who are experiencing minor to potentially fatal complications. These individuals often require transfer to hospital emergency rooms because the surgical center isn’t equipped with physicians and/or nurses qualified to assess and address the emergency. The time that elapses, often 30 minutes or more, between the call and arrival to the emergency room is sometimes more than the patient can survive.

Post-Surgical Risks

Even minor surgical procedures can cause fatal complications. These often appear hours or days after a patient leaves an outpatient medical center. it is common for outpatient surgical centers to release patients without thoroughly assessing their health and the potential for complications upon release. 

Patients who have underlying medical conditions are at greatest risk of complications that can result in death. These patients are often told by surgeons and nurses that if a complication arises, they are to contact the hospital and not the surgical center.

When patients arrive at the hospital for treatment of a complication, treating physicians in the emergency room don’t typically have a full picture of the individual’s medical history. By the time the surgical center conveys this information, it can be too late to save the patient’s life or prevent permanent disability. Adding insult to injury, the victim could be left holding the bag for costly medical bills that could have been avoided with proper treatment and care.