Cosmetic Surgery Requires an Accredited Surgical Facility
Posted Sun, Aug 1, 2010

I began my medical practice in 1973 knowing nothing about how to run a business let alone a medical practice. A highly respected teacher and dermatologist was kind enough to refer me to his attorney to help get me started. Bernard Kleinman was himself a respected tax attorney who took me under his wing and treated me like a son. When we first met I asked him how might I evaluate someone as a good attorney (I am suppressing all of my cynical rejoinders). He said you start with someone you respect and have reason to believe is good at his profession. He may be a doctor, a lawyer, an accountant, or whatever and you ask him to recommend someone to you. He said that individuals who are accomplished in their profession and ethical will refer you to someone like themselves. That is because good professionals are only comfortable with accomplished professionals and poor ones need to associate with those less skilled or moral to maintain their own status. That advice has guided me through my entire career.
So why should you make sure that if you are going to have surgery, any surgery, but perhaps most importantly cosmetic surgery, the facility in which you are about to trust your future happiness or even your life is nationally accredited? (I separated cosmetic surgery because it is perhaps the least regulated of surgical subspecialties (vying with pain clinics and a few others for special mention as buyer-beware clinics or in the immortal words of the philosopher P.T. Barnum “There is a sucker born every minute.”).
There are several reasons to choose an accredited surgical facility. First, consistent with Mr. Kleinman’s advice good doctors tend to congregate with good doctors and accredited surgical centers have criteria for privileging doctors that an unaccredited medical office does not. Second, accrediting bodies have a stringent list of criteria that the surgical facility must meet in order to be accredited. These criteria include sterile preparation of instruments, records of documentation of the protocols of the center, and most importantly the ability to sustain the life of a patient should a crisis arise.
The three main accreditors of ASCs are American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF), Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (Accreditation Association or AAAHC) and The Joint Commission. Ask for them and if there are any doubts call the agency to double check that the facility in question is up to date. If an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure this certainly should be a priority.

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Edward Lack
Edward Lack MD is a board certified dermatologist and a board certified dermatologic cosmetic surgeon. He is President and Medical Director of MetropolitanMD, a multispecialty cosmetic surgery center in Chicago,which is unique in having a double board certified cosmetic dermatologic surgeon, a double board certified facial plastic surgeon, and a double board certified cosmetic plastic surgeon. Dr. Lack is also the Past President of The American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery.

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