Ask ECRI: Assisting Patients during Discharge

January 2, 2024 | Health System Risk Management

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A member recently asked for recommendations regarding patient discharge from ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs), including policies for guest services personnel helping postoperative patients into vehicles. In our response we discuss patient discharge, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regulations, accreditation standards, professional standards, and policy considerations.

Discharge is often defined as when the patient leaves the confines of the medical facility—whether this includes the facility parking lot or encompasses the facility's entire property is subject to state law or facility policy. Therefore, allowing guest services to assist patients into a vehicle (e.g., the patient's vehicle, their accompanying adult's vehicle, a rideshare vehicle) may carry significant liability. Because postoperative patients should not drive for 24 hours if given sedation or anesthesia, facility policies should define discharge, the criteria necessary...

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