Policyholder Services

Task Force Studies OMIC-Insured Surgical Facilities

By Kimberly Wittchow, JD, OMIC Staff Attorney

Digest, Fall 2005

Over the past year, a task force of OMIC Board and staff members, John W. Shore, MD, Anne M. Menke, RN, PhD, and Betsy Kelley, has been examining and revising underwriting requirements and risk management guidelines for coverage of outpatient surgical facilities (OSFs) insured by OMIC. OMIC’s Board of Directors assigned the task force to study scope of practice issues, state laws governing OSFs, and national, state, and local practice standards that establish a standard of care for cases performed in facilities insured by OMIC.

Types of Outpatient Surgical Facilities

First, the task force reviewed the type of facilities that OMIC insures. It found that OMIC insures a wide variety of OSFs with varying goals, scopes of business, and types of surgical procedures and anesthesia provided, including in-office surgical suites, refractive laser centers, and ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs). The types of anesthesia used in facilities insured by OMIC range from topical ocular anesthesia to full general anesthesia with invasive monitoring in high-risk surgical patients.

Some facilities are office-based treatment rooms where major eyelid and facial procedures are performed. Some of these offices permit outside surgeons of different specialties to utilize the in-office surgical suites. These surgeons, many of whom are not insured by OMIC, may perform major facial surgery in an unlicensed and loosely structured practice environment. This increases the vicarious liability shared by owners of the facility who are insured by OMIC.

Other surgical facilities are refractive surgical and laser centers. Surgical services in these facilities are usually limited to those requiring only topical anesthesia. The procedures are short in duration and the patients are relatively healthy. Some, however, are free-standing, licensed ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs), where surgeons of almost every specialty provide surgical services to a full range of pediatric, teenage, adult, and geriatric patients.

Review Process

Then the task force studied all of OMIC’s claims, suits, and settlements involving OSFs. The task force analyzed nursing, anesthesia, pediatric, and surgical standards by national professional groups as well as state and federal laws, regulations, and directives. Information gathered was used to revise existing underwriting requirements and risk management guidelines for OMIC insured OSFs. In addition to being discussed by both the Underwriting and Risk Management Committees, the proposed changes were extensively reviewed by consultants and practicing ophthalmologists with the goal of providing meaningful, clinically relevant, and workable requirements that cover all types of OSFs insured by OMIC. An anesthesiologist was consulted to review the anesthesia, monitoring, and emergency response requirements.

New Requirements

As a result of its work, the task force produced a rewritten and reformatted “Outpatient Surgical Facility Application” (OSFA), which was adopted by the OMIC Board of Directors. All ambulatory surgery centers, laser surgery centers, and in-office surgical suites used by physicians other than the owners and their employees will be required to complete the new OSFA. The OSFA contains detailed information about OMIC’s underwriting requirements pertaining to patient selection, type of anesthesia/sedation, pre- and postoperative assessments and monitoring, and emergency response and equipment. These requirements will be implemented immediately for all new OSF applicants and effective upon renewal in 2006 for facilities currently insured by OMIC.

It is important that insureds abide by all underwriting and notification requirements specified in the OSFA, as failure to do so could result in uninsured risk or termination of coverage. Working with OMIC’s experienced underwriters should enable insureds to complete the application, understand its requirements to avoid any coverage problems, and obtain an extension for those facilities that need additional time to comply with the requirements. While OSFs that are licensed or accredited may already meet or exceed these requirements, we anticipate that some OSFs may need additional assistance to implement them. Most accredited OSFs will receive a 5% premium discount for meeting the accreditation standards.  There are helpful resources listed at the end of the OSFA itself and OMIC’s risk manager is available for confidential consultations.

All OMIC-insured physicians help bear the cost of defending claims and paying indemnity. It is incumbent on the OMIC Board of Directors, therefore, to protect OMIC insureds as a whole by establishing requirements that it believes will best limit the company’s liability and by making certain that insureds abide by these requirements, while at the same time offering physicians the ability to practice in various settings.

Please refer to OMIC's Copyright and Disclaimer regarding the contents on this website

Leave a comment

Six reasons OMIC is the best choice for ophthalmologists in America.

Expertise unmatched.

OMIC's sole mission is to serve ophthalmology. The premier source of ophthalmic claims data and loss prevention materials, OMIC's member hotline is the most used ophthalmic consultative service of its kind and OMIC.com is the most visited web site in America for ophthalmic risk management advice and patient consent documents.