ASC won't lose provider status because of suit against physician, California court rules

A California court ruled that a surgical clinic will not lose its status as a healthcare provider solely because a physician acted beyond the scope of his license, allegedly causing a patient's death, Human Resources Director America reported May 6. 

According to the report, the patient went into cardiopulmonary arrest during a breast augmentation and remained intubated and unresponsive for about six weeks before dying.

The patient's surviving family sued the clinic, the physician and the registered nurse who assisted during the 2019 surgery. They alleged the physician told the patient that a licensed anesthesiologist would administer the anesthesia during the procedure, but the physician and nurse administered multiple anesthetics despite lacking a license to do so and failed to monitor the patient during the procedure. 

In 2021, they amended their complaint to include allegations that the physician misrepresented himself as a board-certified surgeon and that the clinic hired an unlicensed medical assistant who administered local anesthesia. 

A California appeals court ruled the clinic would not lose its healthcare provider status simply because the physician performed acts outside the scope of the relevant licenses.

The ruling stated that the physician and surgery center were acting as healthcare providers when they administered anesthesia and offered other services to the patient as part of the surgery.

The court ruled the family could amend its lawsuit to add punitive damages to its claim.

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