Some surgeons have opened surgery centers, which they own under another corporate name, where they perform risky and major surgeries. This allows the surgeon to not only make money on the surgery, but also the anesthesia and all post-operative nursing care, too. While patients are given a form to sign recognizing this arrangement, most do not realize they are lining their surgeon’s pocket as well as having surgery that should normally be performed in a hospital setting, at a surgery center.
Medicare recently announced that it may move to eliminate spinal operations performed at same-day surgical centers from its list of covered procedures. According to USA TODAY, “the review proposal states that Medicare officials will examine whether such procedures ‘pose a significant safety risk’ to patients and continue to ‘meet the criteria’ for Medicare payment.”
We say, it’s about time.
Same-day surgical centers are dangerous, no matter how old the patient is. A USA TODAY/Kaiser Health News investigation from March of 2018 revealed that, since 2013, 260 people have died from complications arising from procedures at these types of centers. “Some surgery centers are accused of overlooking high-risk health problems and treat patients who experts say should be operated on only in hospitals, if at all. At least 25 people with underlying medical conditions have left surgery centers and died within minutes or days.”
The reporters reviewed more than 12,000 Medicare and state inspection records, and interviewed two dozen doctors and administrators, at surgical centers throughout the country. Sometimes, complications arose and there weren’t enough personnel on hand to help the patient. Other times, the facilities lacked the appropriate and necessary equipment for emergency procedures. Yet time and time again, doctors and administrators claimed that there were well-known risks associated with these type of in-and-out procedures, and that they were not to blame. Two centers, according to USA TODAY, even blamed the patients themselves.
Now, almost 6 months after that initial USA/KHN investigation, Medicare has started to review these procedures, to see if they really are safe for patients. Per the latest USA/KHN report:
The news investigation found that in 2015 and in 2017, Medicare approved same-day spine operations for seniors even though at least 14 patients had died since 2008 after such procedures.
Some suffocated from a well-known complication of upper-spine surgery that can generally be reversed if caught immediately and treated properly.
The investigation also found that some medical professionals urging Medicare to pay surgery centers to operate on seniors’ spines failed to mention recent incidents of death at their own or an affiliated facility.
Medicare is not taking comments, and expects to have its final decision by the end of the year.
This is a personal issue for us
At Crandall & Pera Law, we’re watching this process very closely – not only because we care about the health of seniors, but because we’ve handled cases like this before.
Bill had cervical spine surgery at a Lima, OH surgery center – a center that his own operating surgeon owned a significant portion of. While this surgeon called the center a “hospital,” it was simply a surgery center with minimal staffing, and certainly not a hospital. Bill developed signs of a post-operative blood collection at the surgery location, a complication that later caused his paralysis and loss of bowel and bladder control for the rest of his life. Part of the negligence in this case, is the fact Bill’s surgery was done at a surgery center, rather than a hospital, where nurses are better trained, and the facility is better equipped to handle complications after a major operation.
Crandall & Pera Law will always fight on behalf of medical malpractice victims. We applaud Medicare’s decision to review which procedures they are willing to cover. Seniors already face additional risks when it comes to surgery; putting their lives in even more risk, just so same-day surgical centers can collect a nice payload, is unforgivable.
If you sustained serious injuries after seeking treatment at a same-say surgical center, or if you have lost a loved one to medical negligence, Crandall & Pera Law is on your side. With offices throughout Ohio and Kentucky, we are always nearby when you need us the most. Please call 877-686-8879, or fill out our contact form, to schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers.