Not long ago, a series of mistakes at an eye surgery clinic in West Springfield resulted in five patients suffering from blindness. Each had been operated on the same Tuesday morning in what was promised to be a quick, 15-minute outpatient procedure. Blindness in general is a rare complication for such a surgery which should have raised a red flag. Five occurrences in the same day at the same clinic while undergoing the same procedure seems unprecedented, and the allegations are that the doctor used a needle to inject patients with anesthesia rather than offer a less risky alternative. One of those patients later won a $1.3 million verdict, while other cases are pending.
What this case has in common with a growing number of other Massachusetts medical malpractice lawsuits is the fact that it occurred at a surgical center. A recent analysis by USA Today and Kaiser Health News revealed that as surgical centers have risen in popularity, obtaining approval for an ever-expanding range of complex procedures, despite having a lack of training and state-of-the-art life-saving equipment.
The report indicated there are more than 5,600 surgical centers across the country. These facilities first started gaining steam about five decades ago, touted as a lower cost alternative for those seeking relatively minor procedures. However, now the number of surgery centers has dwarfed the number of hospitals. Although any surgical procedure has the potential for complications, there is no question that hospitals on the whole are better equipped to handle emergencies than these surgical centers. Continue reading