Limited Visibility: Making Information Available on Outpatient Surgery in California

B & R Klütz Consulting

Californians use outpatient surgery centers for many same-day procedures, yet fragmented oversight makes it difficult to get information about these facilities and the quality of care they provide.

July 2015

Many surgical services have migrated from inpatient to outpatient settings in response to advances in technology, cost concerns, and greater focus on patient convenience. Today a large number of Californians go to outpatient surgery centers — instead of hospital inpatient settings — for colonoscopies, arthroscopies, eye surgeries, cosmetic and plastic surgeries, endoscopies, biopsies, and a wide variety of other procedures.

Yet very little is known about these facilities or the quality of care they provide. The California Health Care Foundation commissioned research on the state's outpatient surgery settings — including oversight, public availability of information, and quality of care information such as reporting adverse events. The issues that emerged fall into three main categories:

  • Lack of consistency and equity in oversight
  • Inadequate communication and coordination of reporting by oversight entities
  • Insufficient information available to the public or policymakers

The research concluded that facilities in which the same types of outpatient surgical procedures are performed should have:

  • The same or equivalent minimum standards
  • Equity in oversight and accountability
  • Public availability of information about compliance with minimum standards
  • Mechanisms for the public and health policy decisionmakers to compare the quality of care being provided in each of those settings

This issue brief provides an overview of the research report, Outpatient Surgery Services in California: Oversight, Transparency, and Quality. Both publications are available as Document Downloads.

Infographic: So You're Having Outpatient Surgery