Medspa Liposuction Death Highlights Patient Duty

When you dine out, an inspection lets you know the restaurant is safe. The same is true with your car and your daycare. The state looks at all these things to protect you from harm.
But sometimes we just assume things are getting a closer look, especially when it comes to health care. That’s not always the case according to Dr. Peter Pronovost, VP of Patient Safety and Quality at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He says, “Your average viewer would never dream that that’s the case. They think when you’re delivering care, there’s got be some oversight.” There is tremendous oversight in the operating rooms in hospitals. But in Maryland, some other locations where surgery is done simply don’t. Maryland’s Health Secretary, Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, acknowledges some clinics where cosmetic surgery procedures are done don’t get licensed or inspected. In Maryland, he says medspas and plastic surgery clinics that don’t bill insurance as “ambulatory surgery centers” aren’t overseen like hospitals, even though they may do some of the same procedures.


Regulation in medicine varies by location. The writer of this piece seems to feel that regulation brings safety. This is a a matter of philosophy. Mine is that making good choices is the safest thing a potential medical client can do.

We have discussed the Caveat Emptor atmosphere of cosmetic surgery. It is really up to the prospective patient in choosing her surgeon and facility, to look into the quality of these critical components. In this case, a woman died after liposuction in a Medspa apparently from an aggressive post-operative infection. In the right circumstances, these infections are extremely rare, but the review by the State involved found some irregularities in the anti-infective practices that probably made this more likely. Most qualified surgeons operating in certified operating facilities don’t see a case like this in their entire careers.

It is too late for Eula Witherspoon who died in this Maryland Medspa. She apparently assumed that the facility was certified and that her surgeon was qualified to do her surgery; a mistake that many seem to make. All because a business offers a medical procedure does not make it risk free and risk varies by location and practitioner.

Liposuction can be safe, but don’t expect the State to make it safe. You must screen your surgeon and facility. To limit risk, liposuction should be done in a proper operating room by a qualified surgeon utilizing proper anti-infective precautions. This increases the cost which explains in part why some patients fall into the Medspa liposuction trap.

Best Regards,

John Di Saia MD


Safe Plastic Surgeon screening

, , , ,