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Florida sees growing number of deaths related to cosmetic surgery

Broward County, Florida, has seen a high number of deaths related to medical complications during or after plastic surgery. Within the past two years, 5 deaths have raised concern with the Florida's medical board. Across the state, there have been more than 25 deaths and more than 130 reported hospitalizations in the past 11 years due to similar causes.

But is this an issue of medical malpractice? Why is an elective surgical procedure resulting in deaths and injuries?

Florida first passed rules that addressed plastic surgery in 2001, spurned by deaths caused by unregulated procedures. Since then, the number of doctors performing cosmetic surgery in Florida has grown by leaps and bounds, more quickly than most other states. But are the rules enough?

A medical researcher believes that while regulations have increased procedural safety, there are still a lot of problems that can cause harm to patients. Some of the deaths can be attributed to physician negligence or complications due to medication dosage. While not all the deaths were preventable or foreseeable, this raises the question of whether there needs to be stricter regulation.

Currently, Florida doctors who perform minor cosmetic surgical procedures can do so without being regulated. While the doctors are only using local anesthesia, accidents can still happen. One patient died after getting liposuction - a death possibly brought on by too much local anesthesia. In addition to incorrect dosage amounts of local anesthesia, problems can also occur when a doctor mixes incorrect amounts of other sedatives.

Should legislation be changed to regulate cosmetic surgeons more closely?

Source: Los Angeles Times online, "Tougher rules fail to prevent tragedies from plastic surgery," Bob LaMendola and Sally Kestin, 26 June 2011

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