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Maryland cosmetic surgery center closed for investigation

Any surgery can be dangerous. From a tonsillectomy to an appendectomy, no matter how common or seemingly benign, every surgery comes with risk. One such risk is the risk of a bacterial infection. Bacterial infections can cause serious injury, even death. That is why surgeons and hospitals take such extreme measures to assure that surgical environments are sterile. It is also why surgical errors that can expose patients to infections are taken so seriously.

Following a number of severe cases of group A Streptococcus infection in patients who had undergone a procedure for liposuction at a Timonium cosmetic surgery center, Maryland State health officials decided to close the facility while the investigation into the cause continues. According to state health officials, at least one of the victims died from the serious infection.

The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said that all of the procedures linked to the infections were performed at Monarch Med Spa between the middle of August and the middle of September. Symptoms of infection typically include redness around the wound, severe pain and swelling, progressive dizziness, confusion, weakness and other flu or fever like symptoms. But, as in one of these cases, it can be deadly.

The recent cluster of infections raise interesting questions about how the state oversees cosmetic surgery centers. Currently, cosmetic surgery centers are not required to hold a state license. Because of this, they are not subject to the same level of oversight as a traditional hospital. Nevertheless, if someone is injured while undergoing an operation at a cosmetic surgery center, they may still be entitled to collect damages for their injuries.

Legal liability for injuries sustained during surgery can fall under a number of legal theories. Most commonly, however, the theory proffered is one of negligence. This requires a showing that the physician owed a duty of a standard of care to their patient, that the physician failed to provide that standard of care or deviated from it, and that the deviation actually caused the patients injury.

Source: WBAL-TV, "Officials: Illnesses, death shut down cosmetic surgery center: 2 sickened, 1 dead after liposuction at Monarch Med Spa," Sept. 20, 2012


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