Joan Rivers’ Death Puts Liability Spotlight on Outpatient Surgery Centers

ASC LIABILITY ISSUESComedienne Joan Rivers went into cardiac arrest while being treated at an ASC, or outpatient surgery center and died a week later after lapsing into a coma.

As a result, ASCs are in the media and regulatory spotlight for a variety of legal issues, including doctor referrals, standards of care and how they are run, often not by doctors but by corporations.

The New York Times story linked below raises some interesting issues, which I’ve excerpted below.

As the ASCs continue to proliferate their owners, providers and executives are going to need a close eye on patient care, compliance, risk management and asset protection:

1. The death is being investigated by the State Health Department and the city’s medical examiner.

2. Her treatment at the clinic, Yorkville Endoscopy, a for-profit center, has drawn attention to a flourishing model of medical treatment, outpatient surgery centers, which have been licensed by the state to replace hospital operating rooms for minor procedures.

3. Their management structure is often explicitly designed to maximize profits for doctors, who are typically the majority owners.

4. Yorkville is run by an outside management company, Frontier Healthcare, which is led by a former salesman, a former investment banker and a gynecologist. Its website lists 10 centers in the New York area, and says they take advantage of “favorable reimbursement market trends.”

5. Ms. Rivers’ death has raised a host of questions: Was an anesthesiologist, who would be trained in sedation and intubation, in the room? Was there enough lifesaving equipment in the outpatient setting? Was there adequate prescreening of Ms. Rivers?

Expect many more questions to be asked, see the story here: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/09/10/nyregion/at-east-side-surgery-center-a-rush-to-save-joan-rivers.html?partner=rss&post_id=1800703980_10201659042196767#_=_

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