Ambulatory surgery centers, hospitals at odds over expansion regulations

Ambulatory surgery centers (ASC) and hospitals in Massachusetts are embattled over state regulations for expansion, the State House News Service reported.

According to the surgery centers, the proposed regulation that would require they obtain a "determination of need" before expanding would stifle growth and ultimately phase out ASCs. They argue hospitals would have an unfair advantage as they would only need state approval if their expansions are valued at more than $25 million, the article noted.

However, the hospitals maintain the state needs the regulation to deter "uncontrolled growth" of ASCs throughout Massachusetts.

"In particular, the emergency amendments do not add any new requirements or restrictions on licensed ambulatory surgical centers, but rather codify existing guidelines that the Department uses in any DoN [determination of need] review," Anuj Goel, the Massachusetts Hospital Association vice president for legal and regulatory affairs, said in testimony to the Department of Public Health in February, the News Service noted.

But according to some providers, patients prefer ASCs over hospitals because of their "intimacy," "efficiency" and "consistent staff," among other qualities.

"The question is, why, if it works so well, if we're happy with it, the patients are happy with it, the insurance companies are happy with it ... why are they asking for regulations that are going to limit the role of only one portion of that experience?" Jeffrey Wint, a hand and orthopedic surgeon told the News Service.

Meanwhile, a report last month from the American Medical Association found that the industry needs more research to understand and resolve patient-safety lapses in ambulatory settings.

Communication breakdowns, in particular, frequently are blamed for patient harm, according to the report, although there is little documentation exploring the link, FiercePracticeManagement previously reported.

For more information:
- read the News Service article