Most Pennsylvania patients are probably prone to assume that if a doctor offers to perform a surgery, that he or she knows how to perform the operation and is qualified to do so. It is rare to hear a story about a licensed physician performing surgery outside of their practice area, but that is exactly what happened in a recent case of a botched liposuction.
The incident came to light when the state medical board where the doctor was operating issued a disciplinary order against the man. According to the board's statement, the doctor performed the liposuction after learning about it in the book provided by the equipment maker and taking a brief online course.
We've previously discussed the dangers of trusting medical devices, which go through little or no approval process by the FDA. Doctors should be responsible for making sure that a device is safe for patients and knowing how to use it properly. In this case, the opposite situation transpired, and the doctor put tremendous trust in the device maker, resulting in an injury for his unlucky patient.
The medical board has issued a temporary restriction banning the doctor from performing any further cosmetic or reconstructive surgeries until further notice. However, this is not the man's first run-in with licensing authorities. In 2004 he was fined and had his licensed restricted for improper prescribing practices. He also faced a lawsuit from a patient who said the doctor gave him a prescription of a potent narcotic over the internet, without an exam or any of the other steps doctors should take before providing a prescription.
Cases like this are unusual but should serve as a reminder to Pennsylvania patients that having a reliable reference and doing brief research on a potential doctor can help ensure that you get proper treatment.
Source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram, "DFW doctor barred from performing cosmetic surgery," Darren Barbee, May 31, 2012.