5 key changes in CMS guidance for ASC surveyors

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have revised their State Operations Manual guidance for surveyors of ambulatory surgery centers, clarifying the physician discharge order requirements for ASCs, according to an Ambulatory Surgery Center Association report.

The update was released in a surveyor memo to the "State Operations Manual, Appendix L: Guidance for Surveyors — Ambulatory Surgical Centers." Here are five things to know about the updates:

1. New guidelines state, "it is permissible for the operating physician to write a discharge order indicating 'the patient may be discharged when stable,'" a move ASCA has long advocated for.

2. Previously, patients were expected to leave the ASC within 15 minutes to 30 minutes of the time physicians signed a discharge order. Now, the patients can remain until they are stable, even if it's past that 15 to 30 minute window.

3. Another rule change was solidified in the memo regarding staff radiologists. The guideline now says, "Make explicit that radiological services may only be provided in an ASC when integral to surgical procedures offered by the ASC."

4. The ASC's governing body is also required to appoint an individual to oversee radiology services.

5. The individual who is in charge of the radiological services can already be working at the ASC, but needs qualifications in accordance with state law and federal regulations.

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