Frowning on a smile – Group addresses criticism

Operation Smile, a charity that provides reconstructive surgery to underprivileged children abroad, acknowledged its organization lacks proper oversight and promised sweeping changes to address criticism, The New York Times reports.

Last year, Operation Smile weathered criticism from board members and foreign doctors who said the organization practiced assembly-line medicine and placed a higher priority on volume than on patient safety.

The organization promises to hire a new chief executive, add a position of chief medical officer, and strengthen board supervision of volunteer medical staff, the Times reports. 

In the last year, the news media has documented deaths of Operation Smile patients in countries such as China, Kenya and Vietnam, the Times said. 

Operation Smile director David Ventker circulated a letter among staff and volunteers in which he said the board needed to place a greater emphasis on quality assurance and medical standards, the Times said. 

The charity, which had promised last November to make the results of the review public, has changed its mind and now calls the report an internal review. 

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