Plastic surgery hit the headlines again recently when a patient in Australia suffered a cardiac arrest halfway through her breast augmentation procedure. The physicians acted quickly to resolve the issue, but instead of halting the procedure after stabilizing the patient, the surgeon opted to complete the operation.
Board certified plastic surgeons should always operate with one priority above all others: patient safety. Dr. Richard Zienowicz of Providence, Rhode Island and Dr. Clifford Clark of Orlando, Florida give their remarks about this surprising story and why “buyer beware” always applies when looking for any type of plastic surgery.
What happened down under?
Patient Amy Rickhuss went in for a breast augmentation to receive implants, not knowing her body would also undergo a cardiac arrest. Complications can always happen; physician and facility credentials exist in order to handle them in the best way possible. Rickhuss’s physician’s responded quickly to the dire circumstance, stabilizing her in order to halt the procedure and get her medical treatment. After stabilizing Rickhuss, the surgeon in charge went ahead and completed the breast augmentation, a turn of events Dr. Richard Zienowicz finds appalling.
You’re doing a case, you have one implant in and the patient goes in to cardiac arrest. You don’t finish the procedure, remarks Zienowicz–“That’s just wrong!”
How can you trust your surgeon?
The consultation is always an important part of any procedure, and some might say the most important part of elective procedures. When you’re paying to be operated on for cosmetic purposes, you should really dig deep into what you’re paying for. Establishing a top-credentialed surgeon whose primary goal is to put your safety above everything else is key.
“You have to take care of the patient, it’s always a life over death situation,” says Zienowicz. “It goes without saying, board certification is there for a reason. And last, you need to know where you’re having your surgery done. Look at the Joan Rivers incident.”
The Necessity of Board Certification
Board certification exists for many fields of surgery, but perhaps is never more important than in plastic surgery. To be board certified, rigorous training and education are required of surgeons, in addition to medical school, residencies, and other fellowships. Meeting together at conferences, these surgeons share with each other complications they’ve had and how they corrected them, educating each other to make the specialty that much more refined. Would you rather have your procedure performed by one of these surgeons or one who hasn’t even trained in plastic surgery?
Beyond certification of the doctor, the certification of the anesthesioligst and operating facility are equally important. “The certification of the operating room is also very, very important,” says Clark.
In the end, Amy Rickhuss survived and had her breast augmentation completed in a harrowing procedure. Luck and happenstance might have been involved, but ultimately it should have never happened the way it did. Choosing a board certified surgeon who keeps your safety in mind over your wallet is step number one when it comes to any cosmetic procedure. As Clark puts it, “Buyer beware.”