Saturday, 31 December 2011

Arizona Laws Regulate ‘Practice Drift ‘By Doctors

In Arizona, revised guidelines set strict regulations for doctors who want to practice outside of their specialties. However, several states do not have any regulations or only have limited regulations on such ‘practice drift,’ exposing patients to risk.

In Arizona, those guidelines only came in 2008, in response to an incident in which three patients of a Phoenix emergency room doctor died after having cosmetic surgery in his clinic. The guidelines were passed soon after, and they regulated the kind of training that doctors who want to practice outside of their specialties, need to have. The guidelines established that doctors need to be competent in the procedures that they perform if these are outside their specialties.

It was very important that those guidelines be established because of an increasing number of doctors who practice in specialties outside their own. For instance, cosmetic surgery is a lucrative field. Regulators around the country have been finding a number of doctors branching out into cosmetic surgery without being trained to do so. Doctors are being tempted to branch out into other potentially more lucrative fields without the requisite training and in the absence of any licensing requirements. These procedures are performed in the doctor’s own office.

Both hospitals and insurance companies frown upon such ‘practice drift,’ but doctors manage to get away with this because office surgery facilities are unregulated in half the country. Currently, only 21 states like Arizona require some kind of licensing and accreditation for doctors who want to practice outside their field. You don’t have to be an Arizona medical malpractice lawyer to know that a patient is at a serious risk of medical injury when a doctor trained in obstetrics performs a cosmetic surgery procedure when he does not have the training or qualifications to do so.

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