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Safe Surgery Checklist Use For Ambulatory Surgery Centers

Safe Surgery Checklist Use Mandated for all Ambulatory Surgery Centers

CMS is requiring ambulatory surgery centers to begin using a safe surgery checklist effective on January 1, 2012.  According to CMS, a sound surgery safety checklist could minimize the most common and avoidable risks endangering the lives and well-being of surgical patients. The of the CMS requirement is to assess whether ASCs are using a safe surgery checklist that covers effective preoperative communication and helps ensure that safe practices are being performed at three critical perioperative periods: prior to administration of anesthesia, prior to incision, and prior to the patient leaving the operating room.

CMS believes that effective communication and the use of safe surgical practices during surgical procedures will significantly reduce preventable surgical deaths and complications. CMS view is supported in a November 2010 New England Journal of Medicine study that concluded that surgical complications were reduced by one-third, and mortality by nearly half, when a safe surgery checklist was used.   

CMS does not mandate a specific form of safe surgery checklist.  However, CMS points to the the World Health Organization Surgical Safety Checklist, which was adopted by The World Federation of Societies of Anesthesiologists as an international standard of practice. This checklist can be found at: Safe Surgery Checklist from W.H.O.

The Affordable Care Act required the Secretary to develop measures appropriate for the measurement of the quality of care (including medication errors) furnished by ASCs.   According to CMS, the safe surgery checklist measure assesses the adoption of a best practice for surgical care that is broadly accepted and in widespread use among affected parties. 

Data collection relative to compliance with the safe surgery checklist requirement will begin on July 1, 2013 and end on August 15, 2013.  ASCs will be required to certify that they used a safe surgery checklist for the entire time period from January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2012. The information foon compliance will be collected via an online Web-based tool that will be made available to ASCs via the QualityNet Web site.

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John H. Fisher

Health Care Counsel
Ruder Ware, L.L.S.C.
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