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Maryland ASC Gearing Up for Overnight Stays

Doing so is within CMS guidelines, officials say.

Published: January 15, 2014

A Maryland surgery center is preparing to tuck some patients in, rather than kick them out, after surgery — and keep them overnight when appropriate.

Officials at the Massachusetts Avenue Surgery Center, in Bethesda, argue that state and federal laws require only that ambulatory patients be released within 23 hours and 59 minutes, not that they come and go on the same calendar day, according to a story in the Washington Business Journal. In fact, Randy Gross, the center's executive director, says an unnamed state regulator has assured him that overnight stays of less than 24 hours are compatible with CMS guidelines.

CMS says that ASCs "operate exclusively for the purpose of providing surgical services to patients not requiring hospitalization and in which the expected duration of services would not exceed 24 hours following an admission. An unanticipated medical circumstance may arise that would require an ASC patient to stay in the ASC longer than 24 hours, but such situations should be rare."

The center has already expanded and reformatted its space in anticipation of offering extended stays, and foresees a profitable new niche. The expansion will require several components and services not usually present at surgery centers — such as linen service, meals and laundry — but Mr. Gross tells the Journal: "My total cost structure is still significantly less than a hospital's. I still think I can tremendously undercut hospital pricing."

The center's overnight cases will be limited to otherwise healthy patients who have few risks of complications, he says.

Jim Burger

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