PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
February 01, 2012

Mary E. O'Dowd, M.P.H.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

DHSS Ambulatory Surgery Center Inspection Reports Now Available Online Expanded Website Provides Information to Empower More Informed Decision-Making by Health Care Consumers

Working to make health care more transparent and consumers more informed, the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) today unveiled an expanded website that allows the public to examine inspection reports for 260 licensed or certified ambulatory surgery centers.

Ambulatory surgery centers perform procedures that require less than a 24 hour stay in a health care facility. Common surgery center procedures include colonoscopy screenings, cosmetic surgery and eye, knee and shoulder surgery.

"We are giving consumers easy access to more information so they are empowered to make more informed health care choices," said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd. "Inspection reports are another tool that consumers can use when making health care decisions," Commissioner O'Dowd said.

Consumers can search the DHSS website at www.nj.gov/health/healthfacilities/asc_info.shtml for a specific facility or facilities within a region of the state and review and compare inspection reports for the past three years. They can also view corrective action plans-where appropriate-that surgery centers have filed with the Department to rectify any deficiencies found during inspections.

Inspections look at whether a facility met state or federal standards on things like infection control, medication management, staffing, record keeping, patient rights and maintaining sterile equipment. Facilities cited for deficiencies must submit a plan of correction to the Department within 10 days detailing how problems will be corrected.

"Inspection reports offer a snapshot in time," said Commissioner O'Dowd.  "Consumers should bear in mind that a facility's deficiencies may have been corrected by the time a consumer views the report online. But, inspection reports serve as a valuable tool for consumers to discuss with their health care providers or with a facility they are considering using."

Inspections of Ambulatory Surgery Centers are conducted every three years for compliance with state standards and every four years for compliance with federal regulations. Inspections are also done in response to complaints.

The Department will expand the website in the future to include inspection reports and quality data for other licensed health care facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The Department will also host focus groups on the new site with consumers to seek input on how it can be improved. 

There are several different kinds of Ambulatory Surgery Centers: 145 are licensed by DHSS and of this number, 127 are also certified for Federal Medicare reimbursement; 115 are certified only for Federal Medicare reimbursement, 143 single room operating rooms are in the process of registering with DHSS and another approximately 150 are not licensed by DHSS or registered with the Department.  All physician practices are also regulated by the Board of Medical Examiners. Information about physicians is available at the Department of Law and Public Safety Division of Consumer Affairs at www.njdoctorlist.com.

The Department adopted rules last year requiring one room operating rooms to be inspected and either certified by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) or accredited by one of four CMS-approved independent accreditation agencies.

The Department has significantly increased its oversight of ambulatory surgery centers since 2009. In July of that year, New Jersey was among only 12 states that took advantage of an offer by the federal government for funding to do more frequent and more in-depth inspections of ambulatory surgery centers. The inspections highlighted deficiencies in single room surgery centers and DHSS presented those findings last year to its Quality Improvement Advisory Committee, a panel of health care leaders and representatives of the New Jersey Medical Society and the three hospital associations.

This website tool represents the next step in this ongoing quality improvement and patient safety initiative.