STATE – Last week, the state Department of Health and Senior Services launched a website that allows the public to examine inspection reports for 260 licensed or certified ambulatory surgery centers. In the future, the website will include inspection reports and quality data for other licensed health care facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
Ambulatory surgery centers perform procedures that require less than a 24-hour stay in a health care facility. Common surgery center procedures include colonoscopy screenings, cosmetic surgery and eye, knee and shoulder surgery.
“We are giving consumers easy access to more information so they are empowered to make more informed health care choices,” said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Mary E. O’Dowd. “Inspection reports are another tool that consumers can use when making health care decisions.”
“I commend Commissioner O’Dowd for her efforts to improve patient safety,” said state Sen. Joseph F. Vitale (D-Middlesex), Chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.
Consumers can search the DHSS website at www.nj.gov/health/healthfacilities/asc_info.shtml for a specific facility or facilities within a region of the state and review and compare inspection reports for the past three years. They can also view corrective action plans—where appropriate—that surgery centers have filed with the Department to rectify any deficiencies found during inspections.
Inspections look at whether a facility met state or federal standards on things like infection control, medication management, staffing, record keeping, patient rights and maintaining sterile equipment. Facilities cited for deficiencies must submit a plan of correction to the Department within 10 days detailing how problems will be corrected.
“Inspection reports offer a snapshot in time,” said O’Dowd. “Consumers should bear in mind that a facility’s deficiencies may have been corrected by the time a consumer views the report online. But, inspection reports serve as a valuable tool for consumers to discuss with their health care providers or with a facility they are considering using.”
Inspections of Ambulatory Surgery Centers are conducted every three years for compliance with state standards and every four years for compliance with federal regulations. Inspections are also done in response to complaints.
Vitale is currently trying to shepherd a bill through the Legislature to expand the oversight and inspection of one-room surgical practices. “I look forward to continue to work with the Commissioner to re-tool my legislation to ensure single-room surgery facilities are inspected and their inspection reports are made public as well,” he said.
The bill, S-1210, would make changes to the law governing regulation and licensing of health care facilities in New Jersey. By bringing all health care facilities under the umbrella of licensure, the bill would ensure that single-room surgical practices are held to the same patient safety standards as surgical practices with two rooms.
“This legislation is about patient health and safety,” said Vitale “As the practice of medicine advances and more and more procedures can be done on a same-day basis right in a physician’s office it’s imperative that we know care is being provided in a safe and sanitary environment.”
A similar bill was passed by both the Senate and the Assembly in the last legislative session and was pocket vetoed by the Governor.
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