Stimulus cash targets surgery center infections

Some $10 million will go toward the effort to reduce infection rates at the ambulatory centers. The CDC is pledging an additional $40 million for state efforts.

By Chris Silva — Posted Aug. 18, 2009

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Federal stimulus money is headed to 12 states for on-site reviews of more than 125 ambulatory surgical centers as part of an effort to reduce the number of infections patients acquire during treatment.

States will survey the ASCs before Sept. 30, at an estimated cost of $1 million. An additional $9 million in stimulus money will be made available in October for all states to review ASCs using a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services survey tool developed in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In addition, the CDC will make $40 million available to state public health departments to create or expand state-based, health care-associated infection prevention and surveillance efforts. The agency said it has seen an increase in the number of such infections in outpatient settings, sometimes resulting from basic control failures.

"People go to the hospital to get well, not take on a new infection," said Kathleen Sebelius, Dept. of Health and Human Services secretary. "These recovery act funds will help to identify why there has been such an increase in health care-associated infections, and, importantly, what can be done to prevent them."

While the overall burden of such infections in outpatient settings is unknown, Sebelius said the situation requires additional CMS oversight.

ASCs provide 43% of all same-day surgeries in the U.S., accounting for 15 million procedures a year, CMS said. Typical procedures conducted in the surgical centers include endoscopies and colonoscopies, orthopedic procedures, and ear/nose/throat surgeries.

The 12 states involved in the initial survey are Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming.

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