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Uncertified plastic surgeons responsible for many surgical errors

In recent years, it has become more and more common for health insurance companies to refuse reimbursement to a doctor or medical facility for a patient procedure. As a result, medical practitioners have seen a loss of profits. Instead of addressing the underlying issues with the health care system that has led us to this point, many surgeons are choosing instead to step out of their field of practice and begin performing more lucrative procedures, such as plastic surgery.

But the influx of new plastic surgery practitioners has led to a significant increase in surgical errors and other complications from surgical procedures, caused by doctors who are either untrained, inexperienced or both. And because of the lack of certification requirements in the American medical field, there are few ways of knowing whether the plastic surgery with whom you are entrusting your life is capable and competent.

Most Miami residents would agree: it seems dangerous that doctors are allowed to simply switch practice areas and perform surgeries on unaware patients without having to go through a rigorous certification process. According to the American Board of Medical Specialties, about 80 percent of licensed doctors get a specialty certification, which requires a three-year residency in that practice area followed by a rigorous examination period.

Because doctors are not required to practice within that field or report when they practice outside of it, there is no way of knowing how many are foregoing their certification and switching to a more lucrative area of practice. The increase in patients with botched plastic surgeries seems to be one indication, however, according to a board-certified plastic surgeon. “I’m seeing cases like this on a weekly basis now,” he said, “when a few years ago I hardly saw any.”

Source: The New York Times, “Ear Doctors Performing Face-Lifts? It Happens,” Kate Murphy, Jan. 30, 2012

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