Ambulatory surgical centers draw more attention

As the number of ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) in the U.S. grows, they're drawing steadily more attention, with critics questioning whether enough of them are prepared to handle emergencies.  While these centers perform a wide range of surgeries, including cosmetic, gynecological, urological and dental procedures, as well as some cardiac and orthopedic surgeries, they often lack an emergency room and may not do as well as hospitals when complications arise, researchers say.

ASCs are already a huge business--31 percent of the 50 million surgeries performed annually in the U.S. are performed there--and observers say the growth will continue. According to The Joint Commission, the number of outpatient surgical clinics climbed 25 percent from 2001 to 2006. And their prices can be significantly lower than hospital-based surgeries. However, it's possible they'll face regulation in the future if increased rates complications or deaths occur there.

To learn more about this trend:
- read this USA Today piece

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