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J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2016 Apr 20;98(8):700-4. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.15.00239.

The Safety of Hand and Upper-Extremity Surgical Procedures at a Freestanding Ambulatory Surgery Center: A Review of 28,737 Cases.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Division of Hand and Upper Extremity, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Columbus, Ohio
Hand & UpperEx Center, Wexford, Pennsylvania.



More procedures are being completed on an outpatient basis at freestanding ambulatory surgery centers. The purpose of our study was to determine the safety and rate of adverse events in outpatient hand and upper-extremity surgical procedures.


A retrospective review of cases at a single, freestanding ambulatory surgery center over an eleven-year period was performed. In our analysis, 28,737 cases were performed and were included. Adverse events were defined as serious complications causing harm to a patient or leading to additional treatment. Using state-reportable adverse events criteria as a guideline, we divided the adverse events into seven categories: infection requiring intravenous antibiotics or return to the operating room, postoperative transfer to a hospital, wrong-site surgical procedure, retention of a foreign object, postoperative symptomatic thromboembolism, medication error, and bleeding complications. These adverse events were then analyzed to determine if they led to additional laboratory testing, hospital admission, return to the operating room, emergency department visits, or physical or mental permanent disability.


There were fifty-eight reported adverse events, for an overall rate of 0.20%. There were no deaths. There were fourteen infections, eighteen postoperative transfers to a hospital, twenty-one hospital admissions after discharge, one medication error, and four postoperative hematomas. There were no cases of wrong-site surgical procedures or retained foreign bodies.


Our study shows that, with a selected patient population, a very low adverse event rate (0.20%) can be achieved. Our review showing few adverse events, no deaths, and no wrong-site surgical procedures supports our view that hand and upper-extremity surgical procedures can be completed safely in the outpatient setting at a freestanding ambulatory surgery center.


Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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