If you are a regular reader of my blog you know that there is no law that prevents doctors from performing surgeries they are not trained to perform. But most people are shocked to find out that when a state grants you a license to practice medicine, it does not restrict what you can do within the realm of medicine. It is true that most physicians practice in the field in which they have been trained. But, not every one does. This has led to some very poor outcomes, and some really tragic stories when a patient goes to a physician who is not Board certified to do what he or she is doing.
As you might expect, a lot of these cases involve plastic surgery. And many of these cases have been liposuction operations. And many of these happened in Florida. So the Sunshine State has really been a hot spot for this issue. I have many colleagues who have worked long and hard to promote patient safety by keeping plastic surgery in the hands of Board certified plastic surgeons, and not just any Joe who took a weekend course in liposuction.
Now the state of Florida is helping with this effort. A prime example is a recent law signed by Gov. Scott which will require liposuction to be performed in licensed surgery centers or hospitals. Believe it or not, this is a big step. Licensing requires a high level of standards with regards to both patient safety, and physician training. Essentially, someone is looking over your shoulder and making sure that you are prepared to safely do this operation, can respond to any complications, and that your facility and safety measures are up to snuff, and stay that way. The surgery center where I work, the Physician’s Surgery Center of Knoxville, is re-inspected very couple of years. And, if the state has an issue with something, this will rapidly be managed. And while such inspections are time consuming and require a lot of work, they are important when it comes to your safety.
This is in stark contrast to the situations where majors complications or deaths have occurred. Many or most of these have occurred in unlicensed facilities such as medi-spas, or doctor’s offices. Frequently the physicians involved were trained in other specialties than plastic surgery. And the reason many of those doctors are practicing in unlicensed facilities is that they cannot get privileges to practice at a licensed surgery center or hospital due to their lack of training and lack of Board certification.
So, Kudos to Florida! Now we need to get to work on other states to do the same (Are you listening Tennessee?). This gives me another thing to be thankful for the state of Florida for in addition to my glass of OJ in the morning!