Donda West Law – Pre-Operative Requirements

Published on March 1, 2010 by

When patients comes in for their consultation, they’re often surprised when they are advised that they will be required to have a group of pre-op medical tests done prior to their cosmetic surgery. In our office that’s not where the patient’s pre-op evaluations begins or ends, but it is a critical portion of preparing patients for cosmetic surgery.

As of January 1st of this year, the “Donda West Law” went into effect in California. The law was inspired and named after rap artist Kanye West’s mother who in 2007 died a day after having cosmetic surgery. The law requires that patients having elective surgery undergo a physical examination and obtain clearance from a medical professional before surgery. The particulars of the law set out that an appropriate physical exam be done 30 days prior to a procedure and that written clearance be obtained from a doctor, nurse practitioner or physician assistant.

What impact does this have on most cosmetic surgery patients? Not much. Most reputable, board certified plastic surgeons already have protocol in place to obtain patients’ medical history, as well as requiring them to have bloodwork and/or a physical exam prior to being cleared for surgery. In our office the standards are thorough and comprehensive:

1 Patients complete a two page medical history form listing any chronic illness, previous injuries or surgeries, etc. This is where the pre-op medical evaluation begins – with the patient’s own outline of their medical history and current health. If a patient smokes, it can complicate surgery and significantly hinder the healing process and it’s this pre-op step that alerts the staff to that complicating factor

2 All patients have the following medical tests done:

Hepatitis C
MRSA Nasal Swab (test for staph infection)

3 Depending on the age of the patient and the procedure the patient is having done, they may also be required to have the following tests done as well:

Letter of clearance from a primary care doctor or specialist

4 The day of surgery, all female patients are given a pregnancy test, and yes, occasionally the patients are surprised with the results!

Nearly all of the plastic surgeons I know do a similar screening of their surgery patients. The type of tests done may vary from practice to practice, but the aim is always the same – protect the patient.

According to United Press International, the autopsy results indicated that Donda West died due to a combination of several factors including pre-existing coronary artery disease and “multiple post-operative factors” after an abdominoplasty, breast reduction, and liposuction surgery. Would pre-operative tests made a difference? That’s open to speculation, but what is clear is that there is absolutely no chance of catching underlying pre-existing conditions if no pre-op tests and evaluations are done.

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    Dr. Steve Byrd

    Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon

    To visit our office use address:
    9101 N Central Expy #560
    Dallas, TX 75231

    For mailing purposes use address:
    9101 N Central Expy #600
    Dallas, TX 75231
    Tel (214) 821-9662
    Fax (214) 828-2609

    The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic SurgeryAmerican Society of Plastic Surgeons