March 18, 2009
A draft State Health Division (SHD) report found that more than half of 49 ambulatory surgical centers surveyed in Nevada had "infection control type deficiencies." The report, issued March 6, follows last year's hepatitis C outbreak linked to two Las Vegas ambulatory centers. Health investigators ultimately linked nine cases of infection to the clinics, where staff reused syringes, contaminating vials of medicine. Another 105 cases of hepatitis C infection were "possibly related," health officials said.
At 25 of the 49 clinics surveyed, inappropriate use of single-use items such as syringes accounted for nearly a third of infection-control deficiencies. Sterilization and disinfection issues represented nearly half. The report does not identify the clinics, but all surveys will be posted on a Web site by summer, said Martha Framsted, an SHD spokesperson.
Current federal guidelines call for inspections of ambulatory centers every seven years, Framsted said. However, SHD has requested 11 new surveyors to allow the department to inspect centers every 18 months, said Marla McDade Williams, chief of the state Bureau of Health Care Quality & Compliance (BHCQC).
The outbreak has led legislators to propose two bills, SB 70 and AB 124, that would call for annual inspections of ambulatory surgical centers and other offices where surgical procedures require conscious, general, and deep levels of sedation.
An annual, rather than 18-month, inspection cycle might require more surveyors than already requested, Williams said. Since BHCQC activities are "fee-funded," this would necessitate an increase in licensing fees charged to the facilities, including to nursing homes, group homes, and hospitals, she said.