Rescheduling aesthetic surgery
Rescheduling aesthetic surgery is something that we would all like to avoid. I have had to institute a number of actions to protect the interest of the patient and the plastic surgeon’s.
First, we like to make it hard to schedule surgery flippantly and hard to cancel/reschedule aesthetic surgery. This attitude reflects my desire to protect the patient, and to also protect the plastic surgeon. I really don’t want patients who quickly agree to surgery, and then go home and change their mind. It is a very rare event when I allow patients to consent to surgery after only a first visit. Even patients who travel far for the first consultation, I encourage them to go home and think about it. I got this idea from the professor who trained me, Dr. Thomas Krizek. Google him. Whenever I have disobeyed this rule, I suffer one way or another.
Second, we charge patients $300 to postpone, and then reschedule aesthetic surgery. The reason why we charge this fee is because a postponement impacts our scheduling with our OR staff, anesthesia, implants, drug orders, etc. It costs $900 AN HOUR to staff our multi-specialty surgery center. We have employees who are scheduled months in advance. I cannot yank someone off the sidewalk and perform surgery to fill 3 hours because a patient cancelled 3 days ago because her mother-in-law is in the hospital. We of course understand patients’ constraints, but they must understand what we bring to the table to carry out a surgery. We are happy to reschedule a surgery, and do it once a month, on average. Of course, we never charge a patient if a medical problem is discovered that must be addressed before the surgery; for example, patients occasionally need cardiac clearance before my anesthesiologist is willing to proceed with the surgery.
Third, because we are performing aesthetic plastic surgery, and insurance does not pay for post-op care, we frequently have to rely on family members to help in the post-op period. I have husbands that I should rent out to other patients. My patient J’s husband is a doll. He invented a tummy-tuck dressing that is marvelous!! I wish I could hire him to protect all of my patients. On the other hand, I have another patient who had 3 friends sign up for duty, and NONE panned out. I had to admit her to our local hospital for 4 days, for routine post-op care. I am thinking of developing a consent and contract to obligate the care-giver. Otherwise patients have to be responsible for professional care. This attitude protects the patient and the plastic surgeon from other non-caring people ruining our work.