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U.S. News

Report Calls for Plan to Survey Surgical Centers

March 31, 2009

A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released Friday suggests that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services coordinate efforts to ensure infection control procedures are being followed at ambulatory surgery centers around the country.

The report was requested by Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) following the 2008 hepatitis C outbreak linked to two outpatient clinics in southern Nevada that reused syringes, contaminating medicine vials. More than 50,000 people were told to get tested for hepatitis and HIV, and nine hepatitis C cases have been linked to the clinics.

The GAO recommends recurring, periodic surveys of randomly selected outpatient centers. That data collection effort would help focus the energy of federal agencies on ways to reduce infection and patient risk.

Health care-associated infections are one of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States. However, it is not known how many people are at risk of contracting infections due to improper infection control practices at ambulatory surgery centers, GAO said. In 2007, more than 6 million surgeries were performed at more than 5,100 of these facilities nationwide, it said.

Collecting data on how well centers implement CDC-recommended infection control practices would be better than trying to gather information on where patients were infected, since most infections do not surface until later, GAO suggests. "If a complication develops following a procedure, patients often seek follow-up care from their primary care physician, a hospital emergency department or an urgent care center," making it difficult to collect reliable data about the source of an infection, the report notes.

Back to other news for March 2009

Adapted from:
Las Vegas Review-Journal
03.28.2009; Paul Harasim

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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