Out of China, a woman is suing a hospital for apparently a botched breast surgery that was performed by an oral surgeon. While potentially qualified to perform oral surgery, the surgeon in question was certainly not qualified to perform a breast augmentation. Board certified plastic surgeons discuss on the latest episode of No Spin Live how this situation is not uncommon, even in major hospitals in the US.
Credentials, Responsibility, Qualifications – What Should be Standard isn’t Always In Practice
We assume that doctors and surgeons are not only qualified but responsible men and women. If we are to face surgery in a major hospital in the US, there’s an unspoken assumed trust that whoever is operating in there knows exactly what they’re doing – and is credentialed to do so. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.
“Finally, a hospital is going to be made to take responsibility whether they like it or not,” shares board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Kevin L. Smith of Charlotte. “There are hundreds if not thousands of unqualified surgeons doing procedures in hospitals, basically unregulated. Somebody needs to be the patients’ advocate and make sure these surgeons are qualified and trained to do the jobs they’re doing. Clearly this woman was injured. She had her breast destroyed – or so says the article – by a doc who really wasn’t trained to do this. How was he allowed to get privileges to do this operation?”
While this article in particular discusses a situation in China, similarities absolutely exist in the US. Under-qualified and inexperienced surgeons routinely perform where and what they shouldn’t be, with little oversight from above.
“A similar sort of story happens almost daily within this country,” explains Dr. Ned Snyder IV, a board certified plastic surgeon in Austin. “People who don’t have a background, don’t have training, aren’t board certified in whatever specialty that may be – but it happens in all specialties. People perform surgeries that they shouldn’t be credentialed to perform, or may not be credentialed to do without oversight.”
Using the Law to Provide Responsibility and Oversight
While in theory extensive education and hands-on training should be enough to craft a capable and responsible physician, money talks and even those heavily trained can put profits over patient care. In order to regulate this, sometimes laws have to be passed. Louisiana took a step in a big way recently to solve this pervasive problem.
“Interestingly, Louisiana just passed a law – and this is the first state to do it – that requires that someone who is advertising to do a procedure and saying they’re board certified, that board certification needs to be related to the procedure they’re advertising,” explains Dr. Smith. “Finally, I think patients are going to be protected from all those wanna-be’s who are trying to do plastic surgery and are unqualified to do so.”