— Dr. Melissa Schaefer, Medical Officer
CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion
When patients seek care in any setting, they should feel confident that their healthcare providers are following basic infection control practices. Ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs), or outpatient surgery centers, are one setting where there has been significant growth in recent years both in number and in the type and complexity of procedures performed. Ensuring patient safety in all settings is a priority for CDC as a whole, and something I take very seriously in my own work.
As part of efforts to better define infection control practices in ASCs and target prevention efforts, CDC and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently piloted an infection control audit tool during almost 70 ASC inspections in three states. This week, my colleagues and I reported findings from these inspections in study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The bottom line is that we identified infection control lapses in two-thirds of the pilot facilities.
I find these results disappointing since infection control lapses in any healthcare setting put patients at risk. While our study focused on Medicare-certified ASCs, similar procedures are being performed in doctor’s offices and other outpatient facilities that are not subject to the same oversight and do not undergo inspections like ASCs. Just because procedures are being performed outside the hospital doesn’t mean the same standards and attention to infection control don’t need to be met. All healthcare facilities should take this as an opportunity to evaluate their current infection control policies and, more importantly, make sure their staff understands and follows them.
In the end, we are all patients at some point. We all deserve safe care.
To view the infection control survey tool used in our study go to: