Sunday, January 30, 2005


More Reasons to Avoid Surgery...Provided by Hospitals Themselves

If you've ever had doubts about undergoing surgery, here are two more reasons to make you think twice. Or thrice.

1. Seven cataract patients at a Barberton, OH, hospital were blinded when doctors mixed up the eye solutions used during surgery. Seems that an eye wash intended only for use on the outside of the eye was instead used to irrigate the inside of the eye during the actual cataract procedure. The patients are suing. That's from the Jan. 24 issue of Outpatient Surgery Weekly E-Weekly newsletter.

2. The same newsletter tells of another fluid mixup at Durham Regional Hospital and Duke Health Raleigh Hospital in North Caroline. Seems that someone mixed up the drums that contain detergent and hydraulic fluid, and operating-room staff ended up washing the instruments used during surgery in hydraulic fluid instead of the detergent. The hospital had to send letters to 4,000 patients who were treated during the time of the "liquid mix-up."

If there's a lesson to be learned, it's this: do as much research about any hospital or surgical suite before you sign a consent form. Information is often hard to come by, but state medical boards and some federal agencies do keep statistics about complaints, problems, lawsuits and the like.

Better yet, ask the people who WORK there this very simple question: If YOU were going to have surgery, where would YOU have it done? And which surgeon would you choose to do it? People who work in hospitals tend to have the inside scoop on who's good, who's not and who's just plain incompetent. They might not be able to tell you outright who's good and who's not, but their answers to those two simple questions -- where and who? -- will at least tell you if you're hot or cold.

A Novel Idea for Funding Health-Care: Just as I posted the information above, today's edition of Outpatient Surgery brought this update on state initiatives to fund health-care programs by taxing cosmetic surgery. "Lawmakers in Washington State are considering a 6.5% sales tax on cosmetic surgery and Botox injections to fund poor children's health insurance. In Illinois, the state comptroller has proposed a 6% tax on cosmetic surgery to create a stem cell research institute. New Jersey in September became the first -- and so far the only -- state to tax cosmetic surgery, at 6%."

Way to go, New Jersey!

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