Are surgery centers safe?

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More and more these days, if you need surgery, even something as complicated as joint replacement, instead of going to a hospital you might end up at an outpatient ambulatory surgery center. They’re freestanding facilities designed to get you in and out on the same day, sometimes in just a few hours and often for less money.

But Consumer Reports has important advice about who should and should not go under the knife at one of these centers. Ambulatory surgery centers are not for everyone. Elderly people and those with serious medical conditions may be safer in a hospital. For people with serious conditions like obesity, lung or heart problems even the simplest surgery can trigger complications that may need hospital facilities.

Before you opt for surgery at an ambulatory surgery center that is not affiliated with a hospital, check the center’s certification. Some may not be held to the same standards as hospitals. The Center should be CMS certified meaning it adheres to Medicare standards as this one does. Also, ask about the ASC’s emergency plan. It’s important to know if there is resuscitative equipment on site and how you would be transferred to a hospital if that became necessary.

Consumer Reports also advises asking about the surgeon’s experience. The doctor should have performed your type of surgery at least 50 times in the last year.

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