In order to participate in the Medicare program, ASCs are required to meet certain conditions set by the federal government to ensure that the facility is operated in a manner that assures the safety of patients and the quality of services.
ASCs are required to maintain complete, comprehensive and accurate medical records. The content of these records must include a medical history and physical examination relevant to the reason for the surgery and the type of anesthesia planned. In addition, a physician must examine the patient immediately before surgery to evaluate the risk of anesthesia and the procedure to be performed. Prior to discharge each patient must be evaluated by a physician for proper anesthesia recovery.
CMS requires ASCs to take steps to ensure that patients do not acquire infections during their care at these facilities. ASCs must establish a program for identifying and preventing infections, maintaining a sanitary environment and reporting outcomes to appropriate authorities. The program must be one of active surveillance and include specific procedures for prevention, early detection, control and investigation of infectious and communicable diseases in accordance with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thanks to these ongoing efforts, ASCs have very low infection rates.
A registered nurse trained in the use of emergency equipment and in cardiopulmonary resuscitation must be available whenever a patient is in the ASC. To further protect patient safety, ASCs are also required to have an effective means of transferring patients to a hospital for additional care in the event of an emergency. Written guidelines outlining arrangements for ambulance services and transfer of medical information are mandatory. An ASC must have a written transfer agreement with a local hospital, or all physicians performing surgery in the ASC must have admitting privileges at the designated hospital. Although these safeguards are in place, hospital admissions as a result of complications following ambulatory surgery are rare.
Continuous quality improvement is an important means of ensuring that patients are receiving the best care possible. An ASC, with the active participation of its medical staff, is required to conduct an ongoing, comprehensive assessment of the quality of care provided.
The excellent outcomes associated with ambulatory surgery reflect the commitment that the ASC industry has made to quality and safety. One of the many reasons that ASCs continue to be so successful with patients, physicians and insurers is their keen focus on ensuring the quality of the services provided.