For years, Florida has been a leading destination for cosmetic surgery. This is in large part due to being located in an area that attracts international travelers seeking this kind of care.
Recently, problems have emerged that highlight the incredible risks that exist when undergoing such a procedure. Florida’s lackluster medical regulations and enforcement seem to be spurring the proliferation of illegitimate cosmetic surgery clinics, many of which are not properly accredited or managed by licensed medical professionals.
As a result, many deaths and catastrophic injuries have occurred in the freestanding surgical/office centers so many cosmetic surgery clinics comprise. So how does one know which facilities are trustworthy and safe versus those that aren’t?
If you are considering cosmetic surgery anywhere in the Sunshine State, here are five important questions to ask before moving forward.
1. Is This an Authorized Medical Facility With Licensed Practitioners?
While some patients may believe the medical professionals involved in the surgery are licensed cosmetic surgeons or anesthesiologists, this isn’t always the case.
This is especially true in freestanding surgical/office centers that are not affiliated with a hospital. Most of the time, these centers offer a nurse anesthetist and not a licensed anesthesiologist to put you under before surgery and keep you alive during surgery. Nurse anesthetists are not medical doctors and are not as highly trained as medical doctors.
Additionally, some centers have been found to advertise that they offer licensed cosmetic surgeons, when, in fact, the person performing the surgery was trained and licensed only in a foreign country. Not making sure the procedure is being performed by medical doctors licensed in the State of Florida can potentially result in serious injury or death.
2. Is the Surgeon Board Certified?
Some may think this is an obvious question, but you would be surprised by how many cosmetic surgeons are not board certified.
While it is by no means a guarantee of a positive outcome, having a board-certified physician perform the surgery ensures the procedure is being performed by a highly trained and vetted physician.
If the background and qualification of any of the medical professionals leave you with any question about his or her qualifications, we recommend you find another facility for the surgery.
3. Who Is the Doctor That Will Be Handling My Post-Surgical Needs?
In certain medical facilities, your post-operative follow up may be handled by a medical professional who does not have the same qualifications or credentials as a board-certified doctor.
Many freestanding, non-certified clinics may have a doctor perform the surgery, but then a lesser trained individual will handle the post-operative issues. Make sure the same doctor and group are tending to your follow-up needs and appointments.
4. Is There a History of Medical Malpractice?
Does the facility or the physicians involved have a history of being subject to claims of medical malpractice leading to catastrophic personal injury or wrongful death?
Always double-check to see if the facility and physicians have any prior history of being sued for medical malpractice. You can view the status of doctors or facilities by name at the Florida Department of Health website.
5. Do the Physicians in These Facilities Have Hospital Privileges?
Hospital privileges allow a physician to admit patients and perform certain procedures and operations in a hospital. Just because someone is a licensed physician does not mean he or she has hospital privileges, so always make sure to ask.
This is important because if you need to be transferred to a hospital due to complications, a doctor with privileges can continue to treat you in the hospital instead of you having to be assigned a whole new set of physicians. If they are not privileged, it is yet another reason to be wary and even seek help elsewhere.
Overall, it’s important for you to do your due diligence and properly vet where you are having these types of procedures performed. We strongly recommend that you do not make your decision on price alone. Many of these centers are more than happy to take your money while cutting critically important corners that could place your life at risk.
Don’t let that happen. Do your homework, ask the appropriate questions, and be sure not only that your questions are answered, but also that you are comfortable moving forward in the safest environment possible. Your life could depend on it.