Ambulatory Surgery Center Association 'sharply rebukes' Kaiser Health News, USA Today for report on surgery centers: 6 things to know

Practice Management

The Ambulatory Surgery Center Association responded to a report published by Kaiser Health News and USA Today  titled, "As Surgery Centers Boom, Patients Are Paying With Their Lives." 

Here are six things to know:


1. ASCA's leadership published a press release, stating the society "sharply rebuked" KHN and USA Today for their report on surgery centers. The report featured results from an investigation conducted by the two publications. Reporters investigated autopsy records, legal filings and more than 12,000 state and Medicare inspection records. Additionally, the reporters interviewed dozens of physicians, patients and health policy experts for the story.


2. The investigation revealed more than 260 patients have died after outpatient procedures at surgery centers since 2013. ASCA counter-argued that the article did not mention ASCs' 200 million-plus safely performed procedures in that five-year timeframe.


"By not putting the number of adverse events into context, this article misleads readers into thinking that ASCs have more adverse events than other sites of service, when they actually have fewer," the ASCA press release states.


3. The report states that most surgery center procedures don't result in any complications, especially if the ASC possesses the appropriate equipment and highly trained staff to deal with emergencies. The investigators found more than 12 instances, however, where ASCs were not compliant.


4. ASCA CEO William Prentice said in the press release: "KHN and USA Today have done a terrible disservice to their readers in their article about ambulatory surgery centers by failing to accurately and responsibly report the high-quality, high-value outcomes occurring in ambulatory surgery centers today. By focusing their story on a relatively small number of tragic errors, while ignoring the overwhelming beneficial outcomes found in ASCs, they have created a false and misleading narrative about the safety and efficacy of outpatient surgery."


5. The ASCA response concluded with a comment from Rebecca Craig, RN, CEO of Harmony Surgery Center and Peak Surgical Management in Fort Collins, Colo., who acknowledged the report features tragic patient stories that will "no doubt be deeply concerning to readers." However, she criticizes the article for lacking transparency on medical error occurrences across all sites of care, including hospitals.


"And, while serious adverse events are rare in every setting, they are even rarer in ASCs because the model of care is based on using each patient's health history to assure the highest probability of successful outcomes."


6. Currently, 5,616 Medicare-certified surgery centers exist.


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