After patient deaths, Florida passes law to crack down on plastic surgery clinics

MIAMI (WSVN) - South Florida has gained notoriety as a hot destination for cheap plastic surgery, but numerous patient deaths has now led a state senator to introduce a law to address these deaths.

People from all over the world flock to Miami-Dade County for a smaller waistline and more noticeable assets, but some of them are putting their lives on the line.

Ricardo Martinez was one of those people.

“Living in Miami, model city, I just became infatuated with the billboard, the clinic and what I thought I could end up looking like, but instead it almost cost me my life,” he said.

Martinez said unexpected complications surfaced when he went under the knife for liposuction.

“The doctor had perforated my intestines in two locations and in my colon,” he said. “The surgeon just came up to me with a whole bunch of people and a stack of consent forms and said, ‘You need to sign this right away. Otherwise you’re gonna die.'”

Martinez said he paid about a third of what a procedure of this nature costs. His case is just one of many like it.

After numerous patient deaths from unethical practices, Florida Sen. Anitere Flores introduced a law that would give the state the power to pull the plug on a clinic’s operations or take back its registration if the facility is dangerous to customers.

“Now we’ll be able to stop that because the Department of Health will not issue a license to anyone for at least five years in these horrible cases,” said Flores.

Some Florida clinics think the new regulations may be going overboard.

“It is a knee-jerk reaction, I think. Five years is a bit much,” said a doctor from the Florida Cosmetic Surgery Center in Altamonte Springs. “You can be drunk driving, you can commit all kinds of malpractice. That is just way too much for something that might be a minor infringement.”

Florida now joins seven other states, plus the District of Columbia, that have varying levels of penalties to keep clinics in check. They can range from fines and criminal penalties. as is the case in California, to getting your license revoked, like in Pennsylvania.

The strict standards are set to take effect in Florida beginning in January.

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