New federal study finds ‘lax infection control’ at same-day surgery centers

This post was authored by Brian Nash and posted to The Eye Opener on June 15th, 2010.

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There was an astounding report in last week’s Yahoo! News concerning a new federal report advising that recent investigations of same-day or ambulatory surgical centers (ASC’s) in this country revealed many of these surgi-centers have ‘serious problems’ with infection control.  

“These are basic fundamentals of infection control, things like cleaning your hands, cleaning surfaces in patient care areas,” said lead author Dr. Melissa Schaefer of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “It’s all surprising and somewhat disappointing.”

According to Yahoo! News, the inspections were performed at 68 ambulatory surgical-centers in Maryland, North Carolina and Oklahoma. Using new audit tools, inspectors followed at least one patient throughout the visit. Their findings: 67% of the centers had at least one ‘lapse’ in infection control; 57% of these centers were cited for ‘deficiencies.’

What is even more shocking is that some of the centers that were visited had not been inspected in 12 years!

State agencies have the main responsibility for making sure centers comply with  federal standards, but states often fall behind.

Just how difficult or complicated are these ‘federal infection controls’? They are available online at the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. Section 416.51 is the relevant section of Title 42: Public Health.

(a) Standard: Sanitary environment. The ASC must provide a functional and sanitary environment for the provision of surgical services by adhering to professionally acceptable standards of practice.

These acceptable standards are set-out in a host of available resources. Perhaps the best known of these are the Heathcare Infection Control Guidelines of the CDC’s Advisory Committee (HICPAC).

Apparently, it would serve many of these ASC’s – among others – to read them – or – if they have read them, to follow them!

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