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Health Team

CDC study checks infection controls at surgery centers

Posted June 8, 2010

Many medical procedures that once required a hospital stay can be done as outpatient procedures at Ambulatory Surgery Centers or outpatient surgery centers.

To participate in the Medicare program, these centers must meet certain standards of infection control.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed a checklist that surveyors used to randomly inspect centers in three states, including North Carolina. They focused on five categories: Hand washing, injection and medication safety, equipment cleaning and handling of blood glucose monitoring equipment.

“We found that two-thirds, or about 67 percent, of facilities had at least one lapse in infection control,” said Dr. Melissa Schaefer, of the CDC.

CDC study looks at surgery centers CDC study looks at surgery centers

Researchers studied data collected from 68 certified ambulatory surgical centers over a five month period in 2008.

“Twenty-eight percent of the facilities were using medications that are packaged and labeled for single-patient use, for multiple patients,” Schaefer said.

The study, which is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, also found that 28 percent of the centers had lapses in reprocessing equipment; 46 percent of the centers that performed diabetic testing had lapses in handling equipment; and 19 percent of the centers had lapses in cleaning surfaces and operating areas after patient procedures.

Researchers also found:

  • 28 percent of the centers had lapses in reprocessing equipment
  • 46 percent of the centers that performed diabetic testing had lapses in handling equipment
  • 19 percent of the centers had lapses in cleaning surfaces and operating areas after patient procedures

“This study is important, because it's really the first time that we've, in a systematic fashion, looked at infection control practices in Ambulatory Surgery Centers,” Schaefer said.

Researchers believe the study will lead to improving these facilities and making them safer for patients.

The authors of the study say it is only a starting point to study and prevent infections at outpatient surgery centers.

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