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October 13, 2010

Ambulatory Surgical Centers and Infection Control

JAMA. 2010;304(14):1556-1557. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1443

To the Editor: The study assessing infection control in ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) by Dr Schaefer and colleagues1 correctly placed emphasis on the importance of adherence to infection control policies. However, it left an incorrect impression that patients are at a high risk for exposure to infections in ASCs.

The American Association for the Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF) mandates 100% compliance with infection control standards that include biannual reporting to its comprehensive peer review system. In a study2 of outpatient surgical procedures performed in accredited facilities from 2001 to 2002, 411 670 outpatient procedures were analyzed. There were 388 infections reported (0.09%), all of which responded to conservative wound care and/or antibiotics. However, many facilities are neither accredited nor inspected on a regular basis.