The top two stories of 2007? Easy. Medicare's new ASC payment system and the AAASC-FASA merger. Beginning this month, both of those things will alter the landscape of the ambulatory surgery industry. Here's hoping the transitions are smooth ones, as much is at stake. Lots of other stories made headlines in our magazine last year. Here's a quick review of some notable ones.
- There were name changes. The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations got shorter: The Joint Commission. Yes, AAASC and FASA merged and got longer: The Ambulatory Surgery Center Association. And HealthSouth got smarter: Surgical Care Affiliates.
- There were fires. One was a deadly arson. One was a surgical fire. And one was a job.
Who can forget Misty Ann Weaver, the licensed vocational nurse who confessed to authorities that she started the fire in the Houston cosmetic surgery office where she worked to conceal the fact that she was behind on a project to get the surgical suite re-accredited? The small fire she set in the supply room turned into a fast-moving, four-alarm blaze that charred two floors of an office building, killed three people and injured six others.
Then there was the story about the surgeon who talked to us anonymously on the lessons he learned from a surgical fire. As you may recall, his patient was getting fat pads removed from his lower eyelids. When the fire ignited, the patient was receiving oxygen from a nasal cannula while receiving room air from an oral airway, which was simultaneously blocking nasal oxygen flow by pressing up on the soft palate.
And, sadly, a story I wrote in this space led to a reader getting fired. Apparently, her employers didn't appreciate her sharing her feelings about the day when she had to fire 11 staffers.
- There were high-tech advances. No OR is complete without high-def monitors and LED lights.
- There were renewed attacks on physician ownership. We reported on three. First, the OIG frowned on a fairly common hospital-physician joint venture. Second, proposed changes to the Stark regulations would eliminate hospital-physician "under arrangements" joint ventures. And in New Jersey, a Superior Court judge dusted off the state's version of the federal Stark Law and declared that physicians referring patients to ASCs in which they have ownership interests are violating state law (see "Legal Update" on page 18).
- There were complaints. Proving that you can't please all the people all the time, we caught grief for our September cover photo of a not-quite covered-up patient undergoing a colonoscopy and we upset the folks at AAASC and FASA when we announced their merger before they did.