Learning Objectives: After studying this article, the participant should be able to: 1. Discern the importance of the physician’s office administrative capacity. 2. Recognize the necessity of a system for quality assessment. 3. Assess which procedures are safe in the office-based setting. 4. Know the basic steps to properly evaluate patients for office-based plastic surgery.
Background: At least 44,000 Americans die annually as a result of preventable medical errors. Medical mistakes are the eighth leading cause of death in the United States, costing between $54.6 billion and $79 billion, or 6 percent of total annual national health care expenditures. Office-based procedures comprise a 10-fold increase in risk for serious injury or death as compared with an ambulatory surgical facility.
Methods: This article reviews the literature on office-based patient safety issues. It places special emphasis on the statements and advisories published by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ convened Task Force on Patient Safety in Office-Based Settings. This article stresses areas of increased patient safety concern, such as deep vein thrombosis prophylaxis and liposuction surgery.
Results: The article divides patient safety in health care delivery into three broad categories. First, patient safety starts with emphasis at the administrative level. The physician or independent governing body must develop a system of quality assessment that functions to minimize preventable errors and report outcomes and errors. Second, the clinical aspects of patient safety require that the physician evaluate whether the procedure(s) and the patient are proper for the office setting. Finally, this article gives special attention to liposuction, the most frequently performed office-based plastic surgery procedure.
Conclusions: Patient safety must be every physician’s highest priority, as reflected in the Hippocratic Oath: primum non nocere (“first, do no harm”). In the office setting, this priority requires both administrative and clinical emphasis. The physician who gives the healing touch of quality care must always have patient safety as the foremost priority.