N.Y. Enhances Safety Controls for Office-Based Surgeries

August 6, 2007

New York Governor Eliot Spitzer recently signed legislation written to protect patients undergoing surgical procedures in physicians’ offices.

The legislation calls for patient safety standards regarding whether a surgery can be performed in a hospital, ambulatory surgery center, or a doctor’s office. Currently, surgeries performed in doctor’s offices are not regulated in New York State. Practitioners are not currently bound by the same credentialing and safety requirements as hospitals and are not required to report adverse outcomes.

Nationwide, the number of surgical procedures performed in doctors’ offices instead of hospitals has more than doubled in the last decade, with nearly 10 million surgical procedures performed annually in office-based settings since 2000, according to Spittzer’s office. The procedures being performed are increasingly complicated surgical and invasive procedures.

“We have a responsibility to protect public safety by ensuring that facilities that offer office-based surgeries meet rigorous safety standards,” said Spitzer. “Many procedures can be performed safely in an office environment, allowing patients convenient access to medical care and increasing efficiency.”

The new law:

Requires office-based surgery be performed by physicians in a setting that has obtained and maintained accreditation from an entity approved by the state Health Commissioner.

Requires that operating in an un-accredited setting would constitute professional medical misconduct.

Requires physicians to report adverse office-based surgery events including patient deaths and unplanned hospital admissions within one business day to the Department of Health Patient Safety Center.
Requires that individual reports be considered confidential and not be subject to the Freedom of Information Law or discovery.

The new law was praised by Richard N. Gottfried, chairman of the New York State Assembly Committee on Health. “Most people assume that the Health Department already has jurisdiction over surgery done in a physician’s office, but actually that has not been true. This legislation provides long overdue protections for patient safety,” he said.

The legislation is based on recommendations made by the Committee on Quality Assurance in Office-Based Surgery, established in 1997 by the New York State Public Health Council. The 18-member committee consisted of consumer advocates and medical specialists.

Source: N.Y. Governor’s Office

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