A new federal study finds many same-day surgery centers — where patients get such things as foot operations and pain injections — have serious problems with infection control. Failure to wash hands, wear gloves and clean blood glucose meters were among the reported breaches. Clinics reused devices meant for one person or dipped into single-dose medicine vials for multiple patients. The findings, appearing in last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggest lax infection practices may pervade the nation’s more than 5,000 outpatient centers. This is the first report from a push to more vigorously inspect U.S. outpatient centers, a growing segment of the health care system that annually performs more than 6 million procedures and collects $3 billion from Medicare. Procedures performed at such centers include exams of the esophagus, colonoscopies and plastic surgery.
In the study, state inspectors visited 68 centers in Maryland, North Carolina and Oklahoma. They used a new audit tool focusing on infection control. At each site, inspectors followed at least one patient through an entire stay. Inspections weren’t announced ahead of time, but staff was notified once inspectors arrived. The new study found 67% of the centers had at least one lapse in infection control and 57% were cited for deficiencies. The study didn’t look at whether any of the lapses actually led to infections in patients. A few centers in the study hadn’t been inspected in 12 years. State agencies have the main responsibility for making sure centers comply with federal standards, but states often fall behind. States now are required to use the new audit tool to inspect centers participating in Medicare. Of surveys using the tool so far, 61% of centers have been cited for an infection control deficiency.
Source: Associated Press
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