CHEAPER PLASTIC SURGERY MAY INCREASE MALPRACTICE LAWSUITS
Low-cost, high-volume cosmetic surgery centers are expanding across the country. Critics refer to this phenomenon as the commoditization of cosmetic surgery. Previously, cosmetic surgery procedures usually involved detailed consultations with a plastic surgeon and visits to the hospital. Today these meetings/consultations may involve office park surgery center consults with sales people who are professional closers. The focus of the push is what will work and how little it will cost being performed in an office park surgery center versus a hospital. The high-pressure sales often do not involve sufficient patient screening, including review of the patient’s medical history, proper follow-up, and selling patients on unnecessary or high-risk procedures.
The commoditization of cosmetic surgery has led to “drive-thru, fast food” type procedures for patients who normally could not afford such procedures. There have been an increasing number of medical malpractice lawsuits filed as a result of medical negligence. Additionally, two years ago Lifestyle Lift, one such surgery center, settled a lawsuit filed by the New York Attorney General’s Office charging that the company was writing its own on-line testimonials for existing websites and at least ten other websites to appear consumer generated. According to Lifestyle Lift founder, David Kent, its centers have performed approximately 140,000 facelifts and have only had a few dissatisfied patients.
In Florida, four patients died while undergoing surgical procedures at one of Strax Rejuvenation Aesthetics Institute. The company claims that 3 of the 4 deaths were unrelated to complications of their surgeries. According to Miami plastic surgeon Adam Winstein, Strax cleared of 4 deaths in 90,000 makes its mortality rate almost double what is considered acceptable in cosmetic surgery. One of the doctors who performed surgical procedures at Strax, Jeffrey Hamm, M.D., was on probation until September 2011, following disciplinary action by Florida’s Board of Medicine. The Complaint charged that Hamm failed to meet “standard of care” for a patient after he didn’t consider or order additional lab tests or consultations when the test showed the patient had “dangerously elevated” blood glucose levels.
Many doctors are concerned about this commoditization, which they feel has led to a cheaper, faster, and don’t-ask-questions attitude by the doctors employed by the drive-thru surgery centers.