Advances in medicine have improved the delivery of health care, making it more technologically superior than ever and, at the same time, more complex. Nowhere is this more evident than in the surgical arena. Plastic surgeons are able to perform procedures safely in office-based facilities that were once reserved only for hospital operating rooms or ambulatory surgery centers. Performing procedures in the office is a convenience to both the surgeon and the patient. Some groups have challenged that performing plastic surgery procedures in an office-based facility compromises patient safety. Our study was done to determine whether outcomes are adversely affected by performing plastic surgery procedures in an accredited outpatient surgical center.
A retrospective review was performed on 5316 consecutive cases completed between 1995 and 2000 at Dallas Day Surgical Center, Dallas, Texas, an outpatient surgical facility. Most cases were cosmetic procedures. All cases were analyzed for any potential morbidity or mortality. Complications requiring a return to the operating room were determined, as were infection rates. Events leading to inpatient hospitalization were also included. During this 6-year period, 35 complications (0.7 percent) and no deaths were reported. Most complications were secondary to hematoma formation (77 percent). The postoperative infection rate for patients requiring a return to the operating room was 0.11 percent. Seven patients required inpatient hospitalization following their procedure secondary to arrhythmias, angina, and pulmonary emboli. Patient safety must take precedence over cost and convenience. Any monetary savings or time gained is quickly lost if safety is compromised and complications are incurred. The safety profile of the outpatient facility must meet and even exceed that of the traditional hospital-based or ambulatory care facility. After reviewing our experience over the last 6 years that indicated few complications and no deaths, we continue to support the judicious use of accredited outpatient surgical facilities by board-certified plastic surgeons in the management of plastic surgery patients. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 112: 636, 2003.)