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Vitale Bill To Expand Oversight, Regulation Of One-Room Surgical Practices Approved By Senate Health Panel

Measure Would Ensure Greater Patient Safety, Licensing and Inspection on Par with Larger Ambulatory Care Facilities

TRENTON – The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee unanimously approved legislation today sponsored by the Committee’s Chairman, Senator Joseph F. Vitale that would require single-room surgical practices to conform to the same level of oversight and regulation reserved for facilities that have two or more surgical rooms in order to protect patients.

“This legislation is about patient health and safety,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “As the practice of medicine advances and more and more procedures can be done on a same-day basis right in a physician’s office it’s imperative that we know care is being provided in a safe and sanitary environment.”

The bill, S-1210, would make changes to the law governing regulation and licensing of health care facilities in New Jersey. By bringing all health care facilities under the umbrella of licensure, the bill would ensure that single-room surgical practices which, under current law, are held to the same patient safety standards as surgical practices with two rooms.

“The NJ Health Care Quality Institute’s work to expose the inspection reports of 40 surprise CMS inspections last year should serve as a wake-up call that our current system of double standards in patient safety simply does not work,” said Senator Vitale. “When more than half of the single-room surgical centers inspected are found to be deficient and unsafe and seven of them are so unsafe they have to be temporarily closed, something needs to change. This bill creates an equal high standard of patient safety to ensure that, no matter where you access health care, basic patient safety and sanitary precautions are being followed.”

The New Jersey Health Quality Institute evaluated the reports of 40 random inspections conducted by the Department of Health on behalf of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Of the 40 one-room facilities which were inspected for the report, 17 were found to be in “immediate jeopardy” and seven were temporarily closed. Violations included: not having mandated emergency equipment and medications on site; no tracking of controlled dangerous substances such as narcotics; physicians and staff not having proper licenses or credentials; not cleaning or sanitizing surgical instruments correctly; and using single use items more than once, on more than one patient.

A similar bill was passed by both the Senate and the Assembly in the last legislative session and was pocket vetoed by the Governor.

The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.