Responding to Misleading News Coverage of the Ambulatory Surgery Industry

An article which appeared Friday in USA Today misrepresented the Ambulatory Surgery Center industry’s safety record and claims that a focus on profit has resulted in a “trail of death”. This article was lengthy and full of anecdotes, but lacked context. The authors clearly know very little about the industry, its size or the regulatory environment in which it works. There were no real statistics and no comparison to outcomes in hospitals or non-regulated office practices. The article refers to several situations where paramedics arriving at the center after it called 911 to request a transfer, were not allowed to take care of a patient while the facility was continuing rescue – implying that a paramedic might have been able to provide better care than experienced physicians and nurses.

The poor quality of the reporting will hopefully result in this article fading into obscurity – especially given the wealth of information about the quality of care provided in ASCs. However, we should all be prepared to respond to patients that raise concerns prior to their surgery about their safety and the center’s ability to respond to emergency situations.

As we are well aware, ASCs are required to be well-prepared for any eventuality and it is best to re-assure your patient with a few salient points:

  • ASCs are heavily regulated and the Medicare Regulations in the ASC setting are often stricter than those in a hospital. If your center is accredited, emphasize that you have voluntarily subjected yourselves to a higher standard than required by Medicare
  • Emergency equipment is readily available and checked daily. Staff are highly trained and are required to perform periodic drills to assure continued competency in emergency response
  • Don’t argue the merits of the article nor dismiss the patient’s concerns. Reassure them that the ASC has all of the resources to take care of an emergency and that the staff meet regularly to discuss quality issues and to find ways to improve the patient experience and outcome.

Ambulatory Healthcare Strategies works closely with ASCs around the country to assure that on-going quality monitoring systems are in place and that organizations adhere to the high standards of their licensure, certification and accreditation. If you would like to learn how we can help you spend less time on administration and regulatory oversight and more time with your patients, contact John Goehle today at 585-594-1167 are through LinkedIn messaging.

Don’t forget to listen to this coming Monday’s ASC Podcast with John Goehle for a discussion about the response to the article and the latest ASC Industry news and information and commentary about regulatory and accreditation compliance issues.