The Changing Geography of Outpatient Procedures
Since the early 80s, many surgical procedures have moved from the inpatient to outpatient setting. Outpatient surgical visits now account for about two-thirds of all surgical visits in the U.S. Over the same period, freestanding ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) have arisen as alternatives to traditional hospital-based outpatient surgical departments. The number of ASCs grew from 240 in 1983 to 5,174 in 2008. The growth of ASCs raises safety concerns about the risk of complications and adequate access to emergency care. This Issue Brief summarizes evidence from one state about the changing geography of outpatient procedures and the possible risks associated with these changes.