By some estimates, anywhere from 25 to 30 million Americans undergo surgery every year. Over one third of those surgeries require at least one night in the hospital and even more can involve a significant amount of recovery time. However, an increasing number of surgeries are performed on an outpatient basis each year, requiring no hospital stay and leaving it up to the patient to manage their own recovery.
The Institute for Safety in Office-Based Surgery (ISOBS), an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing public awareness and improving the safety of office-based surgical procedures, notes that over 10 million in-office surgical procedures were performed last year. The Wall Street Journal, however, estimates that over 15 million outpatient procedures will be performed at more than 50,000 locations this year.
The concern among safety advocates and the ISOBS is that only a small portion of those facilities are accredited by independent agencies. The WSJ report also notes that only 22 states have some type of regulations governing these practices.
Move to Outpatient Surgeries
The majority of surgeries do not require a stay in the hospital. According to a 2002 study by the National Center for Health Statistics, 63 percent of surgeries involve minimally invasive techniques and do not require an overnight hospital visit. This number represents a dramatic increase in the number of outpatient procedures being performed each year. Thirty years ago, only 16 percent of surgeries were performed on an outpatient basis.
The move to outpatient surgery was motivated primarily by cost. In 2007, the WSJ notes, the average cost for inpatient surgeries was over $39,000 versus just over $6,000 for outpatient services.
The increasing number of procedures as well as the lack of regulation and laws covering outpatient facilities has many concerned about the overall safety of the practice. The ISOBS is particularly concerned about the ability of offices to deal with emergencies and properly notify patients of post-operative risks.
Contacting an Attorney
Regardless of whether surgery is performed on an inpatient or outpatient basis, doctors and surgeons have a specific standard of care to meet when practicing medicine. If you or a family member have been injured as a result of any act of medical malpractice, it is important to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. These cases are complex and often require the help of medical experts to determine the full extent of your injuries and the amount you need to fully recover.