A 29-year-old woman who was undergoing elective sinus surgery at a free-standing surgical center in Connecticut died after her vital signs dangerously dropped and an ambulance was not called for up to 29 minutes, resulting in the woman’s death, according to the Connecticut medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit that was recently filed.
The February 2015 minor surgery began to unravel when the patient’s blood pressure dropped to the point that it was “unobtainable” and her pulse dropped to critical levels (the pulse oximeter was “not reading”). While the medical personnel unsuccessfully attempted to resuscitate the woman, the surgeon continued with the surgical procedure.
The woman was finally transported to the hospital, where she died one hour later.
Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASC)
According to the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association, ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) are health care facilities that offer patients the convenience of having surgeries and procedures performed safely outside the hospital setting. There are approximately 5,260 ambulatory surgery centers in the United States, compared to 5,724 hospitals. The first ASC was opened in 1970 by two physicians in Phoenix, Arizona, as a high-quality, cost-effective alternative to inpatient hospital care for surgical services. Physicians currently have at least some ownership in 90% of ASCs, although hospitals have ownership interest in 23% of all ASCs and 2% are owned entirely by hospitals.
By operating in ASCs instead of hospitals, physicians gain increased control over their surgical practices: they are able to schedule procedures more conveniently, assemble teams of specially trained and highly skilled staff, ensure that the equipment and supplies being used are best suited to their techniques, and design facilities tailored to their specialties and to the specific needs of their patients.
Medicare pays ASCs 55% of the amount paid to hospital outpatient departments for performing the same services; Medicare pays hospitals 82% more than ASCs for outpatient surgery. The long-term growth in the number of patients treated in ASCs is threatened by the widening disparity in reimbursement that ASCs and hospitals receive for the same procedures. The growing payment differential is creating a market dynamic whereby ASCs are being purchased by hospitals and converted into hospital outpatient departments (once an ASC becomes part of a hospital, it can terminate its ASC license and become a unit of the hospital, entitling the hospital to bill for Medicare services provided in the former ASC at the 81% higher hospital outpatient rates).
In order to participate in the Medicare program, ASCs are required to meet certain conditions set by the federal government to ensure that the facility is operated in a manner that assures the safety of patients and the quality of services. A registered nurse trained in the use of emergency equipment and in cardiopulmonary resuscitation must be available whenever a patient is in the ASC. To further protect patient safety, ASCs are also required to have an effective means of transferring patients to a hospital for additional care in the event of an emergency. Written guidelines outlining arrangements for ambulance services and transfer of medical information are mandatory. An ASC must have a written transfer agreement with a local hospital, or all physicians performing surgery in the ASC must have admitting privileges at the designated hospital.
If you or a loved one may have been injured as a result of medical negligence that occurred in an ambulatory surgery center (surgical center) in the United States, you should promptly consult with a local medical malpractice attorney in your U.S. state who may investigate your surgery center malpractice claim for you and file a medical malpractice case on your behalf, if appropriate.
Click here to visit our website or telephone us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your state who may be willing to assist you with your surgery center medical malpractice claim.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.