In Part I of When Knowing Better Might Save Your Life, the readers were introduced to three women who died from complications of liposuction’s that were done by doctors who were neither board certified nor trained as plastic surgeons. These women made the tragic mistake of trusting our healthcare system. Unfortunately, those days are over. Healthcare is now an industry and patients have become commodities. As the rules of healthcare change, so must the mentality of patients. You can no longer trust people or institutions on face value. You must research their credentials. You must obtain second opinions prior to allowing someone to perform surgical procedures. Metaphorically, you must look in closets and under the bed because things aren’t always as they seem. To stay out of the throes of medical catastrophes, let’s as the infamous Bill Maher would say, follow the “New Rules”:
1. Only have procedures done by a physician who has trained in that specialty. Do not have a tummy tuck done by an Ob-Gyn physician nor a facelift done by an eye doctor.
2. Always check the credentials of your physicians with your State Board of Medicine. Any information regarding a “settlement” of 6-figures or more requires an explanation. He or she was involved in a lawsuit and you need to know why.
3. Do not consent to have major procedures under “local” anesthesia to reduce cost. The negative effects of lidocaine do not occur until 10 hours later after you are home and away from a medical facility.
4. If you opt not to have a procedure in a hospital, make certain the facility has officially been approved for outpatient surgery and find out how long it will take you to get to the nearest hospital in the event of an unforeseen emergency. The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) will have this information. http://www.jointcommission.org/
5. Word-of-mouth is a powerful referral. Ask your healthcare for patient references and read online reviews if available.
6. Always seek the professional services of a board certified physician if possible. Most specialties not only require board certification but annual recertification as well. Why is this helpful? Because it forces the physician to keep current with the latest trends, technology and treatment methods regarding patient care.
7. Never allow anyone to operate on you in an outpatient setting if they do not have hospital admitting privileges. Emergencies are unpredictable.
8. Never have an operative procedure and especially under general anesthesia without first obtaining medical clearance from an internist or family medicine doctor. They will usually order lab tests to make certain you are healthy enough to be put to sleep.
9. Always meet the anesthesiologist before you have a procedure if possible and check out their credentials as well.
10. Trust your instincts. They’re usually correct.
By following these “new rules”, you increase your chances of avoiding harm’s way.