A new California law named for rapper Kanye West’s late mother requiring a physical exam and medical history before cosmetic surgeries isn’t likely to lead to better patient safety, some cosmetic surgeons said.
What the legislation calls for is already common practice, the doctors said. The new law also states that violating this provision “would not constitute a crime,” so charges would not result.
In effect this month, the Donda West Law requires a patient to receive a physical exam and written clearance from a doctor within 30 days before elective cosmetic surgery. California is believed to be the first state to pass such a requirement.
West, a former professor and chairwoman of the English department at Chicago State University, died on November 10, 2007, a day after getting cosmetic procedures on her breasts and abdomen in Los Angeles, California. The 58-year-old was a major influence in her son’s life and had been featured in the Grammy-winning artist’s lyrics.
The Los Angeles County autopsy report attributed West’s death to “coronary artery disease and multiple post-operative factors” and found no sign that her death stemmed from a surgical mistake.
The Donda West Law reinforces what reputable cosmetic surgeons regularly do, several doctors said.
Requiring a physical exam before surgery, to check a patient’s vital signs and other markers of health, as well as collecting personal and family health history is “so fundamental as part of medical training and medical care that to require it by law seems to be moot,” said Dr. Michael McGuire, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
McGuire likened it to telling doctors, ” ‘Make sure you suture up all the wounds.’ At what point does it become absurd?”
While the law “codifies what reputable physicians have already been doing for a long time, it’ll never change the guys who want to be outlaws to do anything different. They’re going do what they want to do,” said Dr. James Wells, a past president of both the California Society of Plastic Surgeons and American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
According to her autopsy, “it is unknown whether Ms. West had undergone any specialized tests prior to her surgery.”