The deadly risks to patients who choose to have cheap cosmetic surgery in Miami became painfully evident following the recent death of a 29-year-old woman from West Virginia after a fat transfer procedure at a Hialeah clinic.
Following liposuction and buttock augmentation, Heather Meadows, mother of two, died as a result of fat particles clogging the arteries in her lungs and heart, causing the organs to fail. According to medical examiners, the cause of death was reported as “complications from lipid transfer, indicating that the fat particles that killed Meadows likely entered her bloodstream through a vein during a fat transfer procedure".
The clinic where the surgery took place, Encore Plastic Surgery, is registered with the state as an office surgery centre. This requires that the clinic is either accredited by a recognised medical board or submits to inspections from the Florida Department of Health. However, as the clinic does not submit claims for payment from third parties such as a health insurance company, Florida law does not require Encore to be vetted by the state’s other healthcare regulatory department, the Agency for Health Care Administration, which oversees the licensing of hospitals, nursing homes and other medical facilities.
In the absence of strict state oversight for office surgery centres, patients must be aware of the dangers they face when choosing to have cosmetic surgery at South Florida clinics such as Encore.
Elise Bevan, a solicitor in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches, said: “Until 10 years ago, outpatient surgery centres were strictly regulated in Florida and were required to meet certain standards but, over the years, the Florida Legislature has chipped away at regulations governing office surgeries run by doctors. The only requirement now is that the doctor has a medical licence. That they are not required to have insurance is particularly frightening.
“With no rigorous regulation from the state, patients receive no guidance for choosing the right clinic and that includes UK patients travelling to Florida lured by offers of cheap cosmetic surgery. We urge those looking to travel abroad for surgery to do their homework and to ensure they have researched not just the surgeon but also the facilities where they will undergo the procedure.”