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Do Outpatient Surgical Centers Pose Special Risks for Patients?

In the realm of medical malpractice, preventable surgical error surely ranks high among patient concerns. When undergoing surgery, patients are absolutely vulnerable and must rely upon a reasonable expectation that all medical professionals in an operating theater will do their duties in a competent manner.

Tragically, that sometimes does not happen, with patient injuries resulting from medical malpractice acts or omissions. Surgeons and other members of operating teams in hospitals across the country simply make mistakes sometimes that result from care delivery at variance from what is the typical standard of care — that is, negligent-free care — delivered by peer professionals.

That happens in all hospitals, even the most modern and well-equipped facilities staffed by eminent doctors in all specialties.

How often does it happen in outpatient surgical centers, where patients are operated on in staggering numbers each day in the United States and typically sent home short shortly after surgery?

That is a fair question, considering that, reportedly, about two-thirds of all operations performed in the country take place in so-called ambulatory centers.

At first blush, many of our readers in Missouri and elsewhere might frankly wonder why any special concerns should attach to surgical procedures carried out at such facilities.

In other words, what would make surgical-related risk factors any higher at an ambulatory facility than they would be at a typical hospital?

As is true with so many medical topics, opinions and expert commentary weigh in liberally on this very question, with strong views on all sides of the debate spectrum.

That is, although some medical insiders don’t think that there are any special concerns with outpatient surgical facilities, many others have a quite different view.

We will address that debate in our next blog entry.