Lawmakers address issues raised in CL surgery story

The Georgia House approved a bill last week that would allow patients to use the Internet to learn of disciplinary action taken against their physicians.
But Republican House members saddled the bill, which now is in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, with an amendment requiring the number of abortions physicians have performed to be included with the disciplinary actions.
The bill is one of two backed by patients' rights advocates who are concerned about unregulated surgery in doctors' offices. In a March 2000 cover story, Creative Loafing detailed questionable practices by physicians practicing surgery in their own offices, including the application of anesthesia by inexperienced doctors, the absence of monitoring equipment, inadequate emergency procedures and the deaths of three plastic-surgery patients.
The proposed Patient Right to Know Act directs the Composite State Board of Medical Examiners to post on its website physician profiles that include the doctor's education, specialties, criminal convictions, disciplinary actions and malpractice judgments exceeding $100,000. The upgraded site would hinge on a $900,000 appropriation. It would go up July 1, 2002, if the Senate passed and Gov. Roy Barnes signed the bill.
House Majority Leader Larry Walker is the bill's chief sponsor, but the abortion amendment could jeopardize its passage because it throws an unrelated controversial issue into the debate.
Medical Association of Georgia General Counsel David Cook says his organization expects lawmakers to introduce a separate bill this week that would place more control over office surgery by requiring anesthesiologists to be credited by a hospital board. It also would require office surgeons to be certified specialists. Those proposals grew out of a MAG task force created after CL described the patient deaths and other abuses.

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