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Medical News & Perspectives
June 22 2011

Ambulatory Centers Match Hospital Safety for Outpatient Colonoscopy, Study Says

JAMA. 2011;305(24):2508-2509. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.857

Screening colonoscopy performed on an outpatient basis appears to be just as safe at ambulatory surgical centers as at hospitals, according to a new analysis of Medicare claims data. Because Medicare reimbursement rates are lower for ambulatory surgical centers, investigators said these outpatient facilities offer opportunities for health care cost savings.

Lead investigator M. Fuad Azrak, MD, a gastroenterology fellow at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, said previous studies have found that ambulatory centers operate more efficiently and at lower cost—about $250 less in Medicare reimbursement per procedure—than hospitals. But Azrak said his findings, presented in May at the Digestive Disease Week conference in Chicago, are the first to compare complication rates in each setting.

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