Naomi Kuznets, PhD, vice president and senior director of the AAAHC, shared her insights on the accreditation process for ASCs.
Question: What small infection control details do ASC administrators often overlook in their practices?
Dr. Naomi Kuznets: There are no "small" details when it comes to infection prevention and control (IPC). Even what some may consider small, in fact, present significant issues and have an impact on morbidity and mortality rates. For example, an oversight in an IPC process focused on sterilization of equipment and proper use of injectables can potentially expose a patient to hepatitis and other bloodborne viruses. Other specific areas where a detail within a process may be overlooked include practicing hand hygiene, placement and proper use of sharps containers, allowing for adequate drying time after use of alcohol to disinfect site and safe storage of medications. These are just a few; there are many more "small" steps which, if not addressed, could easily lend themselves to big problems.
Q: What are the benefits of accreditation for ASCs?
NK: AAAHC's mission is to improve healthcare quality through accreditation. Therefore, AAAHC accreditation is an achievement that:
• Demonstrates a commitment to high-quality care
• Promotes a culture of continuous improvement
• Signals excellence to patients and the community
• Attracts high-caliber staff
• Facilitates third-party reimbursements
• Creates a competitive advantage
Q: What tips would you give to ASC administrators to get/keep accreditation at their facilities?
NK: Achieving AAAHC accreditation demonstrates their commitment to adhere to high quality standards, not just when surveyors show up on the doorstep or when they receive the final survey report and decision, but during every day of that three year cycle – 1,095 days in which they are providing care to a mother, a child, a brother, a colleague, and someone’s loved one – all of whom are relying on them to deliver on their promise of better outcomes. It requires a mindset and spirit of continuous quality improvement, through self-assessments based on AAAHC standards, and ongoing education to stay abreast of advancements in the field and evidence. AAAHC offers several tools and resources, including "Achieving Accreditation" conferences, designed to help attendees prepare for AAAHC accreditation.
Q: What are the key quality benchmarks ASCs should know?
NK: Facilities should be familiar with clinical practice guidelines (e.g. WHO and CDC guidelines on infection control and prevention), as well as relevant published peer-reviewed studies from their specialties and peer organizations. These all present potential benchmarks. Additionally, AAAHC conducts benchmarking studies biannually for the ASC setting on high volume procedures, as well as a safe injection practices benchmarking study, which is applicable to all ambulatory settings. These studies enable ASCs to compare their performance with similar organizations and to trend performance over time through repeated examination of specific topics. ASCs interested in participating in one of our benchmarking studies can find more information here.
There are topics and processes, however, where external benchmarks may not exist or be publicly available. In these instances, the ASC must look within their own performance to establish a baseline and then benchmark in a manner that is appropriate and actionable for their facility.
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