Following the deaths of several women from out-of-state who came to Florida seeking affordable cosmetic surgery, the state is poised to crack down on the industry with new regulations. A bill approved by both the Florida Senate and the House of Representatives is now headed to the desk of Governor Ron DeSantis. If DeSantis signs the legislation, it will significantly increase the state’s power to regulate cosmetic surgery clinics and penalize the businesses that leave their patients injured.
According to an article published in late April by the USA Today, felony convictions do not currently bar anyone from owning a cosmetic surgery clinic in the state of Florida. That fact allowed four felons—with convictions ranging from bank fraud to Medicare scams—to set up shop in South Florida, offering cosmetic surgeries for heavily discounted prices. The too-good-to-be-true prices drew women from other states who were seeking popular cosmetic procedures but couldn’t afford the rates where they lived.
Unfortunately, the prices did prove too good to be true: at least 13 patients died after surgeries at the four South Florida clinics mentioned in the USA Today piece, and numerous others had to be hospitalized due to injuries or complications.
The state was aware of the problem. On four previous occasions, lawmakers have tried to establish new legislation that would improve accountability and patient protection protocols at cosmetic surgery clinics. State Senator Eleanor Sobel has repeatedly introduced legislation that would, among other things, require background checks for owners of clinics. Those bills all died in various committees, the most recent attempt falling short in 2016.
The bill that is currently pending, sponsored by Senator Anitere Flores and Representative Anthony Rodriguez, would require cosmetic surgery clinics to take steps to ensure patient safety. The bill would help to resolve some of the problems highlighted in the USA Today article, such as dirty operating rooms and worn-out or damaged surgical equipment. The legislation would also give the state the power to suspend or revoke licenses, close down clinics, and fine businesses that hurt patients or fail to follow the new rules.
What the new bill doesn’t include is any requirement for background checks. A provision for vetting the criminal backgrounds of cosmetic surgeons was part of the initial draft of the bill but was removed as the legislation made its way through committees. The USA Today noted that there were “concerns over the cost of carrying out the checks.”
Critics of the bill suggest that it doesn’t go far enough to ensure quality control—and greater patient safety—in the industry. One patient who had to undergo emergency surgery to resolve complications caused by a botched cosmetic surgery at a clinic run by a felon told the USA Today that she would have gone elsewhere if she had known about the doctor’s background.
This case underlines the importance of background checks for healthcare professionals, whose jobs often involve taking the lives of patients into their hands. At backgroundchecks.com, we regularly work with hospitals and healthcare organizations to put together thorough employee background check procedures to defend the safety and peace of mind of both patients and staff members.