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For Release:
March 18, 2011

Poonam Alaigh, MD, MSHCPM, FACP

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DHSS Enhances Consumer Protection of Outpatient Surgery Facilities; Proposes Rules Requiring Physician Surgical Practices Be Inspected and Registered


In an effort to raise the bar on patient safety, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) today proposed rules that would require all surgical facilities in the state to be registered and inspected.


In outpatient surgery centers, also known as “same day surgery centers,” patients can undergo certain medical procedures that do not require an overnight hospital stay. Common surgery center procedures include eye, knee and shoulder surgery, cosmetic surgery and colonoscopy screenings.


The proposed rules apply to small surgical practices with no more than one operating room, which are currently regulated as private medical practices under the Board of Medical Examiners. Under the proposed rules, these physician surgical practices would have to be inspected and either certified by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) or accredited by one of four CMS-approved independent accreditation organizations. They would also be required to register annually with the Department.


Currently, there are 250 Ambulatory Surgery Centers that are either licensed by DHSS or certified by CMS, which requires an inspection by either DHSS or one of four CMS-approved national accreditation organizations. In anticipation of the rule, some 128 “one room” physician surgical practices have already voluntarily registered with the Department.


“We are raising the bar on health care quality and patient safety,” said Deputy Commissioner Mary O’Dowd. “This is a new standard that is being set for these facilities by requiring them to be inspected and either certified by CMS or be accredited by one of four CMS-approved independent accreditation organizations,” said O’Dowd.


 “These rules ensure that patients who have surgery in an outpatient setting are being treated in facilities that meet quality and safety standards set either by the government or nationally recognized accreditation bodies,” said O’Dowd. “These regulations are designed to extend consumer protections, as increasing numbers of medical procedures are performed in outpatient surgery centers.”


Consumers who have questions about Ambulatory Surgery Centers or CMS-certified surgical practices can request an inspection report or file a complaint about a procedure at the Department’s website at


The rules were submitted today to the state Office of Administrative Law for publication in the New Jersey Register on April 18. A 60-day comment period would follow publication of the proposed rules.




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