3 Important Quality, Patient Safety Issues in ASCs

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At the 20th Annual Ambulatory Surgery Centers Conference in Chicago on October 25, David Berkowitz, vice president, national accounts at ECRI Institute, discussed three important quality and patient safety issues in ASCs.


The ECRI Institute is a non-profit organization and an evidence-based practice center designated by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. It also offers Consumer Reports-like evaluation of healthcare technology and publishes its findings. Its publications are open to the more than 5,000 providers, public and private payers, government agencies, ministries of health, voluntary sector organizations, associations, and accrediting agencies it serves around the world, according to Mr. Berkowitz.  

There is no doubt that the healthcare landscape is changing. "Our world is going from a volume-based world to a value-based world," he said. Increasingly, reimbursements will be tied to patient safety, satisfaction and quality of care. Here are three important patient safety and quality issues at ASCs:

1. Surgical fires. Fires that ignite in, on or around a patient during surgery are extremely rare. However surgical fires can have devastating consequences and occur more frequently than people realize. "Implementing a surgical fire prevention and management program is one way to deal with this issue," said Mr. Berkowitz. Also, provide opportunities for surgical team members to take some time before the start of the surgery to assess any fire risks.

2. Reprocessing endoscopes. Verifying that an appropriate reprocessing protocol exists and is followed is essential to ensure that endoscopes are reprocessed properly, said Mr. Berkowitz. Endoscopes that are not reprocessed in accordance with appropriate protocols can be hazardous to quality. Provide adequate space, equipment, trained staff, instructions and resources for effective reprocessing, according to Mr. Berkowitz.

3. Medication mishaps with infusion pumps. "This is one of the most frequently reported problems," said Mr. Berkowitz. There needs to be a shift in mind set from viewing infusion pumps as stand-alone devices to viewing them as components of an integrated medication delivery system.

It is important for ASCs to buy the appropriate technology and implement processes to ensure patient safety. According to Mr. Berkowitz, as the industry moves from volume to value, ASCs will have to find the right solution at the right time and right place and for the right price.

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