Recovery Act Funds to Reduce Infections in ASCs are Released


To reduce healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) in stand-alone or same-day surgical centers, the HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced the availability of up to $9 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to state survey agencies in 43 states. HAIs are infections some patients acquire when they are in a healthcare setting such as a hospital or outpatient clinic.

“Because of the Recovery Act, millions of patients who go to stand-alone surgical centers will have greater assurance that they won’t come home with a new infection,” said Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  “Residents in these 43 states will continue to see the benefits from the Recovery Act not only by addressing healthcare-associated infections, but by putting people to work to solve an important issue and improve the quality of life for Americans.”

“Healthcare-associated infections kill nearly 100,000 people and add an extra $30 billion in healthcare costs every year. But with a little bit of knowledge, and some extra effort, much of that can be prevented.  I’m glad to see these funds going to help put people to work combating this tragedy around the country,” said Congressman Dave Obey (D-WI), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, who was a lead author of the Recovery Act and has been an outspoken advocate for efforts to reduce HAIs.

Accredited facilities are surveyed by CMS-approved private accrediting organizations.  As part of the new initiative, surveyors in the 43 states will survey approximately 1,300 ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) across the nation, one-third of the more than 3,800 non-accredited ASCs across the country during the next 12 months.  State surveyors will employ a new CMS survey process for ASCs that uses an infection control tool developed in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Across the United States, healthcare services are being shifted to outpatient settings such as ambulatory care facilities, long-term care facilities, and free-standing specialty care sites. The number of ASCs participating in Medicare grew from about 3600 in calendar year 2002 to 5200 in early 2009, a 44 percent increase.ASCs account for more than 43 percent of all same-day (ambulatory) surgery in the United States, amounting to about 15 million procedures every year.  Typical surgical procedures conducted in ASCs include endoscopies and colonoscopies, orthopedic procedures, plastic/reconstructive surgeries, and eye, foot and ear/nose/throat surgeries.

HAI outbreaks in outpatient settings continue to occur according to the CDC. In several ASC-related communicable disease outbreaks, failure to employ very basic infection control practices were implicated, leading CMS to identify this as an area for additional oversight.

In the last fiscal year, 12 states volunteered to get a head start on this nationwide effort to reduce healthcare-associated infections in stand-alone or same-day surgical centers by beginning to survey ASCs with funding of nearly $1 million provided through the Recovery Act.

In addition to the funds being made available for the inspection of ASCs, the CDC has also made $40 million available to state public health departments to create or expand state-based HAI prevention and surveillance efforts, and strengthen the public health workforce trained to prevent HAIs.

These funds support activities outlined in HHS’ 2009 Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections. The plan also establishes national goals, prioritizes recommended clinical practices, and coordinates a national research agenda. This national plan is available at



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