Federal Requirements Governing ASCs

In order to participate in the Medicare program, ASCs are required to meet certain conditions set by the federal government to ensure that the facility is operated in a manner that assures the safety of patients and the quality of services. Many states require Medicare certification in order to obtain state licensure, and all Medicare certified ASCs must fully comply with state ASC laws.

ASCs are required to maintain complete, comprehensive and accurate medical records that include a medical history and physical examination relevant to the reason for the surgery and the type of anesthesia planned. In addition, a physician must examine the patient immediately before surgery to evaluate the risk of anesthesia and the procedure to be performed. Prior to discharge each patient must be evaluated by a physician to ensure it is safe for the patient to leave the facility.

CMS requires ASCs to establish a program for identifying and preventing infections, maintaining a sanitary environment and reporting outcomes to appropriate authorities. The program must be one of active surveillance and include specific procedures for prevention, early detection, control and investigation of infectious and communicable diseases in accordance with the recommendations of nationally-recognized infection prevention authorities, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A registered nurse trained in the use of emergency equipment and in cardiopulmonary resuscitation must be available whenever a patient is in the ASC. To further protect patient safety, ASCs are also required to have an effective means of transferring patients to a hospital in the event of an emergency. Written guidelines outlining arrangements for ambulance services and transfer of medical information are mandatory. An ASC must have a written transfer agreement with a local hospital, or all physicians performing surgery in the ASC must have admitting privileges at the designated hospital. Although these safeguards are in place, hospital admissions due to complications following ambulatory surgery are rare.

The requirement for continuous quality assessment and performance improvement is an important means of ensuring that patients are receiving the best care possible. An ASC, with the active participation of its medical staff, is required to conduct an ongoing, comprehensive assessment of the quality of care provided and implement a performance improvement plan to ensure patients continue to receive the highest level of care.