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"These people knew they were under observation, had the opportunity to be on their best behavior and yet these lapses were still identified, some of which potentially are very dangerous and have been warned against explicitly," said Dr. Philip Barie of Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. Barie was not involved in the study but wrote an accompanying editorial in the journal.
A few centers in the study hadn't been inspected in 12 years. State agencies have the main responsibility for making sure centers comply with federal standards, but states often fall behind.
In the Nevada outbreak, officials notified 63,000 patients that they might have been exposed to blood-borne diseases. Nine cases of hepatitis C were linked to the clinics; more than 100 other cases also may be related.
States now are required to use the new audit tool to inspect centers participating in Medicare. Of surveys using the tool so far, 61 percent of centers have been cited for an infection control deficiency.
The new findings will cause centers to "redouble our efforts to improve patient care," said Dr. David Shapiro of the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association, a trade group. "Any incident is one too many."
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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