A series of problems with surgeries at physicians’ offices in Arizona has prompted the state’s medical board to propose new rules for office-based procedures. The rules would require physicians to have specific monitoring and emergency equipment, provide specialized staff training, and inform patients of the risks of having surgery in an office setting.

Until now, the state has exercised little oversight of the trend of performing invasive surgeries requiring sedation in physicians’ offices instead of in fully staffed and equipped hospitals or outpatient surgery centers.

“There have been a number of bad outcomes with surgical procedures done in Arizona doctors’ offices, dating back to 2004,” says Timothy Miller, executive director of the Arizona Medical Board, the agency that oversees and disciplines Arizona physicians.

According to physicians who perform elective procedures, the trend is popular because office-based procedures offer privacy, lower prices to patients, and bigger profits for surgeons.

The proposed rules are now open to public comment and will be reviewed by the governor’s office. If accepted, they may go into effect in May.

[Arizona Daily Star, March 5, 2007]