Division of Health Facilities Evaluation and Licensing

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Ambulatory Surgery Centers

Ambulatory Surgery Centers are centers where surgical or other medical procedures can be safely performed without requiring the patient to stay in the hospital overnight.

These centers are also sometimes referred to as surgicenters, same day surgery centers or outpatient surgery centers.

Two state government agencies and the federal government play a role in oversight of ambulatory surgical care. In addition, some centers choose to earn accreditation from private national accrediting agencies.

How do I .....

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are Ambulatory Surgery Centers and what services do they provide?
    These are centers where patients can undergo certain types of surgery or medical procedures, recover and go home the same day. Eye, knee and shoulder surgery, cosmetic surgery, and procedures such as colonoscopy screening for colon cancer are examples of services these centers provide. They are sometimes called surgicenters or same day surgery centers.

  • Who oversees ambulatory surgery in New Jersey?
    Centers are either licensed by the Department of Health or come under the authority of the state Board of Medical Examiners, which regulates private physician practice. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also requires any center serving Medicare or Medicaid patients to meet CMS standards and become certified.

  • Are all Ambulatory Surgery Centers in New Jersey licensed?
    No. The Department of Health only licenses those facilities that have more than one operating room.

    The state Board of Medical Examiners (BME) has oversight of physicians and physician practice in New Jersey and, therefore, regulates centers that have only one operating room as part of the physician’s or physician group’s private medical practice.

    In addition, either type of center may choose to become certified by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This certification, which requires centers to meet CMS standards, is necessary before a center can be reimbursed for their care of Medicare patients.

    Centers also may choose to become accredited by a national, private accrediting agency, which requires compliance with that agency’s standards.

  • What is the purpose of DOH licensing?
    Licensure standards establish rules and standards of care designed to protect the health and safety of patients.

  • How many Ambulatory Surgery Centers are there in New Jersey?
    There are 133 DOH-licensed centers in the state. Another 116, though not DOH-licensed, are certified by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as meeting CMS standards of care. Many other centers come under the authority of the New Jersey state Board of Medical Examiners, which regulates private physician practice. For further information on the BME, visit the agency’s web page at: http://www.state.nj.us/lps/ca/bme/index.html.

  • How frequently are ambulatory surgery centers inspected?
    DOH inspects licensed ambulatory surgery centers every three years. Centers that are certified by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) but not DOH-licensed are inspected every four years as authorized by CMS. DOH conducts these inspections on behalf of CMS. DOH also conducts on-site inspections of all complaints.

  • Have any centers been fined or shut down?
    Yes. DOH, working in conjunction with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, temporarily curtailed admissions at some ambulatory surgery centers for deficiencies in meeting standards related to infection control, safety, sanitation, medication control, patient safety and other issues. Each of these centers was allowed to reopen after correcting the problems identified.

  • How does a facility improve after it has been cited for deficient practices?
    Licensed Ambulatory Surgery Centers must comply with DOH licensing standards at all times. Centers with Medicare certification must meet the conditions established by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. If a facility is out of compliance with these requirements, it must submit an acceptable plan of correction and implement that plan. DOH conducts a revisit inspection to ensure the center is back in compliance.

  • How can I obtain inspection reports?
    You may request copies of inspection reports through the New Jersey Open Public Records Act. A link can be found in the bottom left of the DOH home page, or you may go directly to the OPRA Central page at http://nj.gov/opra/ to file a request. Use the State Records Request Form to request facility inspection reports and other government records. You may complete the form online and file with the Department of Health, Long Term Care section.

  • What is DOH doing to ensure safe care in ambulatory surgery centers?
    DOH is very concerned about any violations of state or federal standards, and works with the health care facilities to make sure deficiencies are corrected. DOH has intensified its oversight of ambulatory surgery centers since July 2009, when it was among the first states in the country to improve the inspection process in partnership with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services.

    In addition, DOH works with its Quality Improvement Advisory Committee to improve care in ambulatory surgery centers and other licensed health care facilities.

    New Jersey also has a confidential Patient Safety Reporting System. All facilities – including ambulatory surgery centers – must report to DOH when a serious preventable adverse event occurs. They also must conduct a root cause analysis to find the underlying causes of the medical error, and develop and implement a plan to prevent it in the future.

    To learn more, visit the Patient Safety web site. Annual reports contain data on errors and their underlying causes, and track statewide trends in the effort to improve patient safety.

  • How can I find an Ambulatory Surgery Center?
    Go to the Department’s facilities Search page. Check off "ambulatory surgery" in the ambulatory care services section and click on the search button. You may search by county, town or name of facility.

  • How do I know if a facility if licensed?
    A list of all licensed ambulatory surgery centers can be found through the Department’s facilities Search page. This list is continuously updated. You may also ask your doctor if the facility where you will have your procedure is licensed by DOH.

  • How do I find out if an ambulatory surgery center is accredited by a private agency?
    On the Department’s website, you can find a list of DOH-licensed centers, the date of their last inspection, and the name of the accrediting agency, if any.

  • Which private organizations offer ambulatory surgery centers accreditation for complying with their standards?
    - Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care
    - American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities
    - American Osteopathic Association
    - The Joint Commission

  • How do I file a complaint about an ambulatory surgery center?
    Visit the Department’s Complaints web page to learn more. You may file a complaint online, or by phone, fax or mail. The complaint hotline is 1-800-792-9770.

  • How do I find more information about a doctor?
    Visit the New Jersey Health Care Profile web page, where you can do a physician search and find information on the provider’s credentials, education, disciplinary actions and more. The data base also contains information on podiatrists and optometrists. It is maintained by the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety.

  • Are there any other sources of information about Ambulatory Surgery Centers?

    - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Patient Safety
Hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers must report to New Jersey’s confidential Patient Safety Reporting System when a serious preventable adverse event occurs. Facilities must conduct a root cause analysis to find the underlying causes of the medical error, and develop and implement a plan to prevent future errors.

To learn more, visit the Patient Safety web site. Annual reports contain data on errors and their underlying causes, and track statewide trends in the effort to improve patient safety.

 


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