Outpatient care can lead to more infections

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

With a nod to the established dominance of outpatient surgery, NPR health blogger Scott Hensley explores a recent JAMA study which demonstrates that outpatient, same-day surgery carries with risks of infection that Hensley said were “a lot higher than they should be.”

Random inspections of nearly 70 surgery centers in three states found that two-thirds had at least one significant lapse in controlling infections. One common problem was the use of single-dose medication vials for more than one patient — found in 28 percent of the inspections.

Quite a few stakeholders have thoughts on the study, starting with a companion editorial by surgery professor Philip S. Barie (bio). The relevant trade group has also produced a response, as has HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Both say about what you might expect. The industry group says that an industrywide infection clampdown and new CMS standards for such activities have helped control the problem in the time since the study’s data was collected, and Sebelius trumpets current and future HHS efforts to avoid as many health-care-associated infections as possible.

outpatient
Taken from an industry group report, this graph shows at a glance exactly why outpatient surgery is such a significant issue.

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