AAAASF Accredited Facility
In AAAASF accredited facilities, Patient Safety is First!
It is the mission of the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities, Inc. (AAAASF) to develop and implement standards of excellence to ensure the highest quality of patient safety through an accreditation program. Accredited facilities and clinics have been inspected and have met 100% of the standards set by AAAASF for Accreditation.
Setting the Standard for Quality Patient Care
These days, there is more to having surgery than just selecting your surgeon. AAAASF has designed an accrediting program to help provide patients with the assurance of safety and quality in all aspects of their outpatient surgery experience. To achieve this goal, every AAAASF-accredited ambulatory surgery facility must meet stringent national standards for equipment, operating room safety, personnel and surgeon credentials. The experts at AAAASF know that maintaining safety and quality in the ambulatory surgery facility is a dynamic process, requiring constant review and revision of standards to reflect the current state-of-the-art. As the leading accrediting organization, AAAASF has developed the systems to effectively monitor and implement the latest advances in outpatient care delivery advances that directly benefit patients.
AAAASF accreditation has been recognized as the Gold Standard. The vast majority of ambulatory surgery facilities are not accredited, operating independently of any peer review and inspection process. A growing number of states throughout the country, however, are recognizing the need for mandatory accreditation. AAAASF is in the forefront of legislative efforts to provide patients with safety and quality assurance in the outpatient surgery setting.
In 1996, California became the first state to mandate accreditation for all outpatient facilities that administer sedation or general anesthesia. AAAASF was instrumental in the development of the California legislation (AB595), as well as subsequent laws and regulations adopted by states such as Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas. AAAASF accreditation has been accepted by State Departments of Health in lieu of state licensure, and AAAASF has been approved to inspect facilities for certification by Medicare. AAAASF accreditation guidelines have been recognized as the gold standard. providing the highest level of safety and quality in ambulatory surgery care.
Many private insurance carriers recognize accreditation by AAAASF for reimbursement of covered procedures.
AAAASF-accredited facilities must meet stringent requirements. All AAAASF accredited facilities must:
- Comply with applicable local, state, and federal regulations including licensure, fire safety, sanitation and building codes for the protection of patients and medical personnel;
- Adhere to federal laws and regulations affecting their operation such as OSHA blood-borne pathogens standards, hazardous waste standards, the Americans with Disabilities Act and HIPAA;
- Utilize advanced instruments and monitoring devices for patient safety during surgery and in the recovery period;
All individuals using the facility must meet one of the following criteria:
- A Doctor of Medicine certified or eligible for certification by one of the member boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS medical or surgical specialty).
- An oral and maxillofacial surgeon certified or eligible for certification by the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (ABOMS), and
- Provide for the administration of general anesthesia, when appropriate, by a board-certified or board-eligible anesthesiologist or a certified registered nurse anesthetist. Other personnel assisting in surgery and providing care for the patient in the recovery room include specially-trained and certified surgical technicians, registered nurses, and licensed practical nurses.
Modern surgery and anesthesia have reached new heights in safety and new, less invasive procedures have been developed. However, economic pressures have created a trend in outpatient surgery in which all types of physicians are doing surgery in their offices. Many of these physicians are performing procedures learned during a weekend course and in many cases, are far afield from their training or not in their field of specialty. Another concern is the use of oral or intravenous sedating drugs on patients undergoing these procedures in non-accredited facilities. AAAASF accreditation assures proper credentials and strict requirements for safeguards prevent this scenario from happening!
The American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities, Inc. (AAAASF) was established in 1980. Its primary mission is to ensure the highest quality patient care in the ambulatory surgery setting.
AAAASF is unique among accrediting agencies in protecting patients in an office-based surgery (OBS) setting:
- Requires surgeons to have hospital privileges for any procedure that is performed.
- Requires the use of Anesthesia professionals for deeper levels of anesthesia.
- Requires safe surgical environment, equipment, drugs, etc. through specific standards.
- Holds OBS to Hospital standards.
- Requires peer review (peer oversight) and tracks data (complications, mortalities, etc. with extensive data covering over 2 million procedures).
Today, with more than 2000 accredited outpatient facilities, the not-for-profit AAAASF is the largest accrediting organization of its kind in the nation.
Not all in-office surgery centers are safe
With many of today’s plastic surgery procedures occurring in non-hospital settings, it’s important that patients be aware of how the office-based or freestanding surgical center is accredited. Safety should always be a top priority for patients, as poorly equipped or maintained facilities can result in less-than-satisfactory results. Medical industry professionals advise asking doctors operating outside of a hospital setting if the facility being used is accredited by a recognized organization.
Accreditation by an organization like The American Association for the Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF) will serve to ensure the safety of a patient during a procedure.
Hospitals are required to meet specific standards that differ somewhat from stand-alone or office-based surgery centers. However, all organizations providing surgeries must meet criteria for physical plant standards, licensing of personnel, types and conditions of on-site equipment, as well as support staffing to maintain their certifications. Patients working with surgeons who are members of an accredited hospital can be reasonably certain that surgeon’s performance history and training have been peer-reviewed and found acceptable.
The question then becomes, what are the advantages of using a stand-alone medical facility for same-day surgeries rather than going to a larger hospital that provides a full range of care options? First, when a patient is ambulatory and there is no need to stay in a hospital for aftercare, stand-alone centers are simply more convenient. Smaller centers also offer a measure of privacy large hospitals have trouble duplicating. Assuming the stand-alone facility has been through the AAAASF certification process, the level of care will likely be high while the risks of complications and infections should be minimal.
Stand-alone or office-based surgery centers certified by AAAASF generally provide services at or above levels generally seen in larger hospitals and institutions. AAAASF stand-alone facilities offer clean, well-equipped options patients have grown to expect from top medical professionals. In addition, these facilities are ready to handle any emergency that might come up to ensure patients enjoy safe, efficient procedures. Anyone anticipating a plastic surgery procedure not requiring an overnight stay is encouraged to explore the benefits provided by stand-alone facilities.
Published with permission from Dr. Miguel Gallegos at Hermosa Plastic Surgery in New Mexico.