It’s a sure sign that a healthcare movement is gaining traction when Consumer Reports takes interest and offers advice to patients and consumers. A recent issue of the publication offered patient tips for getting the best care at an ambulatory surgery center (ASC), and shared statistics on ASC case volume, the increasingly complex types of procedures now being performed on an outpatient basis, and associated cost savings. The article also covered key areas to explore when considering outpatient surgery at an ASC.

Among the potential benefits of outpatient surgery outlined in the article were shorter stays, lower costs, and lower rates of associated infections than those who had surgery in a hospital. Citing cataract surgeries and lumpectomies as the most common procedures at ASCs, the article also points out the increase in more complex procedures, such as hysterectomies – which rose from 36% to 64% between 2010 and 2014, and noted some ASCs are also performing total joint replacement and spine surgery.

“While hospitals are best at taking care of very sick patients,” noted CEO Chris Bishop in a recent Regent Surgical Health white paper, “by adding ambulatory care facilities physicians can serve patients’ less severe healthcare needs in a more convenient, more efficient and cost-effective venue, while referring inpatient needs back to the hospital.”

Following are six key questions posed to help patients be better informed about surgery in an ASC:

  • What is your age and strength? Adults who are frail, or older, may take longer to heal, have stronger or longer-lasting reactions to anesthesia, and be more likely to experience surgical complications.
  • How severe is your medical condition? Patients with conditions involving higher risk of complications may be better off in a hospital that can quickly respond to emergencies, particularly for patients who have obstructive lung diseasehypertension, or a past history of cardiac intervention, heart attack or stroke.
  • What are the potential risks of your particular surgery? Find out how many of this type of case are performed at the center. Also, ask for your surgeon’s infec­tion and complication rates for your surgery; compare them to inpatient and outpatient hospital rates.
  • How does the ASC measure up when it comes to health and safety standards? Is it CMS [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] certified? Find out the center’s infection rate and the facility is accredited.
  • How experienced is the surgeon? The anesthesiologist? Discuss an emergency plan should a transfer to the hospital be necessary. An established ASC will have a plan and clinical protocols in place.
  • What steps will be taken to ensure success at home after the surgery? Total knee replacement, for example, requires a multidisciplinary team effort and Regent’s program has been clearly defined by Kathleen Bernicky, Regent’s Vice President of Risk Management and Clinical Operations.

As a leader in developing and managing successful surgery center partnerships between hospitals and physicians, Regent Surgical Health is ideally suited to help ASC leaders address these questions for their patients. For more information, call 708-492-0531.