A ^Retired Plastic Surgeon's Notebook

Worst-case scenario – can we talk?

Seattle Plastic Surgeon takes on the unmentionable topic of post-surgical complications.

Today I had a patient ask me discuss a worst-case scenario for her surgical recovery.  Yikes, what a depressing topic!   I tried to educate her without scarring the whatever out of her.  Here’s my spiel on this topic.

Worst-case scenario:  The BIG ONE (as in earthquake) hits Seattle when I am removing her stitches and we all die together in a heap of rubble.  Or, North Korea drops a nuclear bomb on Seattle while I am removing her stitches and we all fry together.  Or, any other number of terrible things in which we all die together.

Now for more likely bad-case scenarios:  Postoperative bleeding, infection, dehydration, fecal impaction, severe nause and vomiting, uncontrollable diarrhea, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolus, wound dehiscense, heart attack, stroke, psychotic break, etc.   Are these common?  NO!  I wouldn’t be doing this for a living if they were!  But……..they could  happen. 

If they happen, proper and prompt treatment is in order to avoid a bad outcome.  That may mean a trip to the Emergency Room or even admission to the hospital and – er – who pays THAT bill??????

I have been covering my patients with Cosmetassure for about 10 years.  This is sort of like travel insurance.  If anything bad happens (that is realted to the surgery) during the postoperative “trip” (defined here as 30 days), Cosmetassure will cover it.  

I signed up with Cosmetassure after a postoperative complication almost did me and a very nice patient in.  I had done an uneventful tummy tuck on her and she contracted a very, very bad case of diarrhea a couple of weeks after surgery.  She got sicker than a dog but did not want to seek medical care because she thought her regular insurance would not cover the cost because she was recovering from cosmetic surgery.   She became so dehydrated and weak that I finally said, “You check into the hospital today or I am calling 911.”

Her hospital admission labs showed early kidney failure from the dehydration!!!  YIKES!   I got an excellent internist involved in her care and she had a quick and uneventful recovery, kidneys and all, after intravenous fluid and medications.  And the diagnosis was a viral infection unrelated to her surgery and her insurance covered her hospital costs.  My recovery from this horrible post-operative experience was not so quick and uneventful.  I was a wreck for weeks thinking that I could have lost this sweet and wonderful (although a little stubborn) lady! 

So now, I make sure my patients are covered by Cosmetassure.  I never, ever again want a patient resisting needed care because they are concerned about the out-of-pocket expense.  I sleep better and I think my patients do too.

Thanks for reading and stay healthy!  Dr. Lisa Lynn Sowder


Category: Patient Safety, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

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