The White House has approved HHS' plan to launch a patient safety database for ambulatory surgery centers, as more of the facilities pop up across the country and represent a bigger share of healthcare providers.
The ambulatory surgery center database will be similar to other HHS programs in place hospitals, nursing homes and pharmacies. The Office of Management and Budget posted an approval notice Friday for the ASC database.
HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality wanted to launch the database because ASCs are treating a growing number of patients and federal regulators want to ensure patient safety.
The database will store information from surveys of surgical center staff on patient safety culture. For instance, staffers will be asked if their management regularly develops action plans for adverse outcomes and whether all of the staff members involved in a surgery get to weigh in on post-care recovery plans.
There were 5,532 Medicare certified centers in 2016, up 3.5% from 5,344 in 2011, according to federal data. From 2011 to 2016, the number of ASCs grew at an average annual rate of 1.3%. Roughly 3.4 million Medicare enrollees receive care at ASCs annually. However, spending has grown about 27%, from $3.4 billion to $4.3 billion, over that five-year period as the facilities provide more services and see more patients.
AHRQ's request came months after a joint investigation by Kaiser Health News and USA Today raised concerns about the quality of care and safety at ASCs. The news outlets discovered that more than 260 patients have died since 2013 after outpatient procedures at surgery centers across the country.
ASCs support creating the database, as the surveys will help ensure surgery centers are providing the best care possible, according to William Prentice, CEO of the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association.