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Office surgery bill to get makeover 

Sponsors scramble to craft new legislation

Sponsors of a bill to regulate office surgery are now playing beat-the-clock to get a new version through the House after opposition by groups representing hospitals and nurse anesthetists killed the original bill.

As first written, the Office-Based Surgery Quality of Care Act would require physicians who perform surgery in their offices to have their surgical facilities accredited and also to obtain credentials to perform various surgical procedures. The bill would allow doctors to obtain surgical credentials either from the state medical board or from a hospital located within 50 miles of where their practice is based.

Though strongly supported by patients rights advocates and much of the medical establishment, the bill, introduced by House majority leader Larry Walker, D-Perry, met with opposition.

Last week, John Parker, the general counsel for the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals, said hospitals were concerned that office-based surgeons will obtain staff privileges to do complex surgeries at a hospital, and then present themselves as vetted by the hospital to perform the same procedures in their offices, thus exposing the hospital to malpractice claims. And nurse anesthetists worried that the legislation would give the medical board new powers to limit their practice in offices.

The Medical Association of Georgia, which drafted the bill, was willing to make changes to appease both groups. But the bill had been engrossed by the House, making any amendments impossible.

Now, with the first bill scrapped, a new bill to satisfy the hospitals and nurses is being hastily redrafted. With only about a week to make it through committee and to a vote on the House floor, its fate for this session is now uncertain.

"It's going to be a major scramble, but I hope they can do it in time," says Tiana Brown, who testified last week about the death of her cousin during a botched plastic surgery in an ill-equipped clinic. Details of the case were first revealed in CL stories last year.

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