The New Jersey Association of Ambulatory Surgery Centers, stung by a study of safety procedure lapses at such facilities, is backing legislation to require uniform licensing and inspection of each facility that performs surgery in the state, whether it’s a freestanding ASC, a doctor’s office or a hospital.
The state Senate health department has scheduled a hearing Thursday at 1 p.m. on a bill, Sen. Joseph R. Vitale (D-Woodbridge), that requires all surgical facilities to be licensed and inspected by the state Department of Health. Currently, hospitals and the largest ASCs are licensed by the Health Department, while physicians who perform surgical procedures in their offices are regulated by the state Board of Medical Examiners, which licenses physicians.
The New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute on March 26 issued an analysis of state data that found a higher rate of safety deficiencies in surgical practices not licensed by the Health Department. In the report, CEO David Knowlton wrote, “It seems prudent to me to only schedule surgery at ASCs that can show evidence that they are licensed and have been inspected by the state” — the aim of the Vitale bill.
Mark Manigan, a partner in the Roseland law firm Brach Eichler, said he and members of the association met with Knowlton last week, and with Vitale on Monday.
“Our position has been, for a long time, that standards for surgery should be the same regardless of where it is performed, and we are confident that the more light you shine on this industry, the better it looks,” he said.