06 February 2012

 

You’ve seen the beautiful ambulatory centers, many in the wealthy suburbs. Some have lovely landscaping, envious marketing budgets and slick brochures with impressive before and after photos.

Who could blame you for thinking these surgery centers are clean and safe?

Some certainly are safe.

But not all.

Here’s just some of what surveys from the state department of health found at some New Jersey surgery centers:

  • Staff members walking through sterile operating rooms in street clothes.
  • Physicians and staff not having current licenses and credentials.
  • Not cleaning or sanitizing surgical instruments correctly.
  • Using single use items more than once, on more than one patient.

These surveys have always been public for those with time and initiative and understanding of the system. They could file Open Public Records Act, or “OPRA” requests. But that didn’t help the average consumer.

Now things have changed. For the first time sunshine is disinfecting the state’s surgery centers. This week the state Department of Health and Senior Services announced, effective immediately, that the department will be putting all inspection reports and plans of correction of licensed ambulatory centers on their website. Also on the site will be Medicare-qualified unlicensed surgery centers surveys and registration information of the unlicensed centers that haven’t been surveyed…yet.

The Quality Institute has long pushed to make these inspection reports easily accessible to consumers and we are thrilled that the state health department has scanned thousands of pages of inspections and placed them of the website. The inspections go as far back as 2008.

It’s hard to overestimate what an important step forward these postings are for patient safety.

The average consumer cannot walk into a center and tell anything is wrong. State inspectors know what to look for, and in 2009-2010 state surveys found something alarming: 49 of 91 facilities did not meet standards to participate in Medicare, and more than 25% of the facilities were cited for “Immediate Jeopardy,” which means the centers could potentially cause patients serious injury, harm or death.

I hope everyone checks out the state website before getting their tummy tucked or their knees improved or their colons scoped. The state has asked us to help them make the site more user-friendly and we are happy to do so. In the meantime, here’s the site with some navigation tips.

Go to the NJ Department of Health website

Select “Expanded and Improved Ambulatory Surgical Center Web Site”, in the “Hot Topics” box.

*Or go directly to that site with this link

Next either put in the county you’d like to search or a specific facilities name

Once you’ve found the surgery center you want to review from the search query, click on the “Survey/Inspection Information” link and view the results.

A step into a surgery center will never be the same again when you become an educated health care consumer.

01 February 2012

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NJBIZ

By Melinda Caliendo

State Sen. Joseph Vitale’s (D-Woodbridge) efforts to get single-room surgical facilities under the same regulatory umbrella as other surgical facilities advanced Monday, as his proposed legislation moved through the Senate’s Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee unanimously.

Vitale sponsored the same bill in the last legislative session after a study by the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute authored a report finding many of the one-room facilities in New Jersey had deficient patient safety standards. The bill was pocket vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie because of a 2.95 percent tax assessment on single-room facilities, required by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“The bill that passed out of committee is in its original form, from last session, which included the assessment that the governor had a concern with, that I shared that concern with,” Vitale said. “We’re going to try to move the bill along as it is, and try to address that issue. I’d rather not have to apply the assessment, but we may, at the end of the day, not have a choice.”

Read full article…