A new federal study found many same-day surgery centers have serious problems with infection control procedures.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention visited 68 centers in Maryland, North Carolina and Oklahoma and found 67 percent of the centers had at least one lapse in infection control. Some 57 percent were cited for deficiencies. The patient safety lapses included failure to wash hands, wear gloves and clean blood glucose meters. Clinics also reused medical devices meant for one person. The study did not examine if the lapses led to patient infections.
The study, reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association this week, comes as the nation’s 5,000-plus outpatient centers perform more than 6 million procedures and collect $3 billion from Medicare each year.
“This study should be a wake up call to physicians performing relatively minor surgical procedures at walk-in clinics,” according to Boston attorney Marc L. Breakstone. “All surgeons must have zero tolerance for lax infection control procedures, which can expose patients to life-threatening infections.” According to Breakstone, the risks of serious injury to patients from staph and hepatitis infections are as great in the small center as in the large hospital setting.
The study was prompted by a hepatitis C outbreak in Las Vegas believed to be caused by unsafe injection practices at two clinics. The clinics have been closed.