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Family sues outpatient surgical clinic over death of father

During medical treatment, we all expect that our doctors and other medical staff know what to do and provide the appropriate standard of care during our procedure. We expect that a doctor is experienced with the type of procedure we are undergoing and are competent to execute it well.

We also expect that should something go wrong, that the facility is equipped with both the tools and the personnel to prevent a medical emergency from becoming a medical tragedy. One family suffered such a tragedy, when their father died after something went terribly wrong during his procedure, an anterior discectomy and fusion. He had to be transported to a local hospital where he died.

The surgical procedure took place in an ambulatory surgical center. These standalone medical facilities provide many outpatient procedures. They are growing in popularity, because they may be cheaper than traditional hospitals and they may have greater availability for scheduling procedures. Nevertheless, there are concerns.

Last year in Connecticut, there were 20 adverse events, i.e. incidents where a patient was injured or killed by their medical treatment. In 2004, there were only three such events. There are concerns that these facilities are ill equipped to deal with critical medical emergencies when something goes wrong with a routine procedure. Joan Rivers died after treatment in an outpatient surgical facility.

Complex procedures, such as an anterior discectomy and fusion, and the family's attorney described it as "an extremely delicate operation." These facilities have grown in popularity, and Connecticut has 61 such facilities.

However, it is important they are popular for the right reasons, and that individuals are not being placed at risk because insurance companies can save a few dollars with their use.

newstimes.com, "Suit raises concern about outpatient clinics," Amanda Cuda, April 20, 2015

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