Ambulatory Surgical Centers Gain Popularity

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Ambulatory Surgical Centers

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USA Todayon Monday examined the growing popularity and the risks of medicalprocedures performed at ambulatory surgical centers. ASCs -- which,among other services, can offer extensive cosmetic, gynecological,urological and dental surgeries, as well as common cardiac andorthopedic surgeries -- have gained in popularity because they offerlower costs, more personalized care and more comfortable medicalenvironments, according to surgeons and patients.

Some experts -- such as Lee Fleisher, chair of anesthesiology and critical care for the University of Pennsylvania Health System,who has conducted research on outpatient surgical centers -- haveraised concerns about the lack of adequate postoperative and emergencyservices as more elderly patients and patients with multiple chronicconditions undergo procedures at the facilities. Among the 50 millionoutpatient surgeries performed annually, 31% occur at ASCs with noattached hospital or emergency department, Fleisher said.

According to the Joint Commission,the number of ASCs increased by 25% from 2001 to 2006, and 4,618 --more than half of all ASCs -- had registered with Medicare by lastSeptember (Brophy Marcus, USA Today, 7/30).
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