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ASCA rebukes 'sensationalized' story misrepresenting ASC safety
The Ambulatory Surgery Center Association rebuked a story by Kaiser Health News and USA Today saying it misrepresented the safety and quality of outpatient surgery.
Becker's ASC

The Ambulatory Surgery Center Association rebuked a story by Kaiser Health News and USA Today saying it misrepresented the safety and quality of outpatient surgery.

Here's what you should know.

  1. The news organizations conducted investigative reporting attempting to document the number of deaths and track quality at surgery centers. Reporters examined autopsy records, legal filings as well as state and Medicaid inspection records. They conducted several interviews with physicians, health policy experts and patients. They referred to the reporting as the most extensive examination of these records to date finding 260 patients died at surgery centers since 2013. They spoke to the surviving family members of many of these patients and described the events around the deaths in detail. 

  2. ASCA rebuked the organization saying they failed to report the whole story. ASCA CEO William Prentice said, "KHN and USA Today have done a terrible disservice to their readers in their article about ASCs by failing to accurately and responsibly report the high-quality, high-value outcomes occurring in ASCs today. By focusing their story on a relatively small number of tragic errors, while ignoring the overwhelming beneficial outcomes found in ASCs, they have created a false and misleading narrative about the safety and efficacy of outpatient surgery."

  3. The news organizations found approximately 260 patients died in surgery centers since 2013, and noted there is no national authority tasked with tracking patient deaths. ASCA said the story failed to note the more than 200 million safely performed procedures at surgery centers.

  4. ASCA said the story also failed to quantify the events, making it appear as though surgery centers had a higher amount of adverse events than other sites of services when they are among the sites with the lowest adverse event rates.

    "The implication that ASCs somehow pose a higher level of risk to the patients they serve is false and unsupported by both data and the medical literature," ASCA said.

  5. Fort Collins, Colo.-based Harmony Surgery Center CEO Rebecca Craig, RN, said center physicians and staff "share in the loss and regret that accompanies any adverse medical event," but chided the article for failing to provide a surgical site comparison rate and for failing to note that medical errors occur at all sites of care.

    She said, "While serious adverse events are rare in every setting, they are even rarer in ASCs because the model of care is based on using each patient's health history to assure the highest probability of successful outcomes."

Read the full statement from the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association (ASCA).