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Outpatient surgical facilities have lax reporting requirements

There are a number of reasons why hospitals report medical mistakes. For one, it is often required by law, but it also helps to keep hospitals and doctors aware of the number of errors they are making. Reporting can also serve as a way to shame doctors into paying more attention so that they don't make surgical errors.

So, why, then do outpatient surgical facilities have vastly different reporting requirements? Are patients in Pennsylvania who choose to use these facilities at greater risk of injury or infection?

For people who reserach medical mistakes and surgical errors and infections, it is clear that there is very little information about rates of infection at ambulatory or outpatient surgical facilities. This is particularly concerning, as more and more people are turning to these centers and more and more complicated surgeries are happening at them.

While anyone who is injured by a negligent surgeon or medical professional at an ambulatory surgical center can file a medical malpractice lawsuit just like anyone who is injured at a hospital, patients may not realize the risk they are taking at an ambulatory surgical center. If there are few tracking and reporting requirements, surgical centers may not be willing to share (or even know) their rates of post-surgical infection.

With more than 5,000 ambulatory surgical centers in the United States, the need for proper regulation, reporting and tracking is growing. Although not all outpatient procedures will be done negligently, it is important patients know what they are getting into before they go under the knife.

Source: Scientific American, “Under the Knife: Where Infections Fly under the Radar,” Dina Fine Maron, May 19, 2014

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