Office surgery bill dies

A revised bill to regulate office surgery died in a Georgia Senate committee last week.

Supporters of the bill, including the Medical Association of Georgia (MAG), expressed dismay that the Health and Human Services Committee, chaired by Sen. Connie Stokes, decided not to consider the bill at the final meeting last Wednesday.

"Apparently, some members of the Alliance of Community Hospitals convinced [Lt. Gov.] Mark Taylor that the amended version of the bill still didn't address their issues, even though their lawyer and lobbyist said that it did," says Bill Clark, the chief lobbyist for MAG.

After concerns about liability and job protection were raised by hospitals and nurse anesthetists, respectively, in late February, the original office surgery bill was withdrawn, and a new version quickly was introduced. The new bill passed unanimously in the House, but failed to make it through the Senate.

"We don't have any problems with it," says Monty Veazey, director of the Alliance of Community Hospitals. "I'm not sure what happened."

"We are extremely disappointed," says Tiana Brown, a nurse whose cousin died during a botched plastic surgery procedure in 1997. Brown and her mother have been pushing hard for the legislation, which they believe will make outpatient surgery much safer.

"This bill is actually reining in office surgery, by holding them to much higher standards," she says. "Right now, the doctors are free to do whatever they want in their offices, with no supervision. I don't know why any hospital or anyone with common sense would be opposed to it."

Clark says the medical association will work to build more support for the office surgery bill and plans to introduce it again next year. ??

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