The Florida State Senate has passed Bill #S3114, The Self Service Surgical Act. Previous approved by the Florida House (#H1992), the legislation is now on Governor Rick Scott’s desk for signing. Sponsored by State Senator Mark Leyner, and strongly supported by multiple senior and patient rights groups, it is expected that Scott will sign the 24-page Act into law immediately. This will make Florida the first state to legalize self service operating rooms (SSROs).
The medical equivalents of U-Haul, Home Depot and rental rug shampooers, SSORs have been the subject of debate and excitement. Apposed by the American Medical Association and national surgical groups, because of concerns about falling physician employment rates, SSORs are seen as a potential source of medical tourism and tax revenue. Seniors wintering in Florida, so called snowbirds, will be able to have surgery when it is convenient and recover through the warm winter months. Sponsors contend SSORs will help the sagging Florida real estate market and bring increased visitors from northern states, as well as other countries. SSORs will significantly reduce overall medical costs and are supported by Libertarians as an alternative to Obama Care.
The first self-treatment clinic will open this summer in the Orange County town of Etubabe, FL, 35 miles outside Orlando. It will be 37,000 square feet and have six private surgical suites, and a Starbucks. After checking in and entering their own operating room, each patient will be guided through a computer explanation of the planned operation, sterile technique and organ donation, with instructions given in English, Spanish or Yiddish. As each patient is performing their own surgery, informed consent will not be required, although the Florida Insurance Commission is considering self-malpractice lawsuit regulations. The patient will then disrobe, as needed, and operate, using the latest surgical implements, up-to-date methods, perfectly measured drugs and Internet support. After completing the surgery the patient will be transported via pneumatic tube system to their own private recovery area, where they will spend as much time as needed (until 11pm) to get back on their feet. A taxi will be automatically called to pick them up as soon as they can stand or sit upright.
SSORs will allow, with a swipe of a credit or insurance card, patients to perform most operations on themselves, without having to deal with physicians, hospitals or in-laws. Originally limited to those surgeries that can be performed while awake on those parts of the body which can be reached with two hands, recent developments in computer-assisted-robotics allow almost any procedure, even those requiring general anesthesia. This can include joint replacement, complex abdominal surgery, cardiac bypass and cosmetic repairs. For embarrassing procedures, such as rhinoplasty, gastric bypass or buttock enhancement, having an operation without talking to a doctor is a major advantage. The only surgery banned, at this time, is brain surgery, because if there is a complication there will be no one to clean up.
Because surveys have indicated that the average age of people using SSORs in Florida will be 81, concerns were raised during hearings whether octogenarians had the coordination and stamina to perform major operations. Experts assured legislators that with robot assistance almost anyone, no matter how feeble or confused, can perform the most complex procedure. A landmark study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showing that first year medical students at the Mayo Clinic performed liver transplants with absolutely no training, after being awake for three days, was persuasive. Nonetheless the bill requires patients performing self-surgery to wear a Lifeline Pendant around their neck, which when pushed sends the message, “Help, I have a retroperitoneal hemorrhage and can’t get up.”
SSOR bills will likely soon pass in other snowbird states, such as Arizona. Nevada is looking at combination SSRO, brothel and slot machine suites. With recent research showing increased surgical safety at low temperatures, Alaska is considering Personal Open Operating Platforms for medically underserved areas. Other states are looking at related legislation, such as North Dakota’s Mechanized Nursing Home Act and Oregon’s so-called “let-me–do-it-myself” Funeral bill. The later is strongly apposed by the Funeral Service Association of Canada, which has aggressively entered the growing market of global terminal tourism, but the bill is supported by the Plastic Flower Council, as well as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which is trying to find some use for excess salt caves they purchased. With the average funeral costing $24,135, an SEB (self embalm and bury) or an SBB (self bag and burn) for $4100, is an attractive bargain, and because it can be charged to a credit card is eligible for travel points or a blender.