CDC to conduct survey on outpatient surgery

For the first time since 1996, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will conduct the National Survey of Ambulatory Surgery (NSAS).

The survey was halted after 1996 due to a lack of resources, but it will resume in 2006 to fill the gap in information about surgical procedures that are increasingly being performed in an outpatient setting. The new survey will provide detailed information on a national level.

The NSAS gathers data on surgery in freestanding ambulatory surgery centers as well as hospital outpatient settings. Surgery centers and hospitals are selected randomly across the country, and individual patients are selected randomly within surgery centers and hospitals. Data are abstracted from patient records on characteristics such as sex, age, race and ethnicity, type of payer, diagnoses, procedures, type and duration of anesthesia, and symptoms during and after surgery.

The identity of surgery centers, hospitals, and patients sampled for the NSAS are held in strict confidence by CDC, but de-identified data are available to researchers.

While only one in 10 surgery centers or hospitals will be sampled for the NSAS, it is vital for all sampled facilities to participate, according to CDC researchers. A high participation rate ensures better estimates of ambulatory surgery, and a low rate weakens the data.

The CDC contracts with the U.S. Census Bureau so ambulatory surgery programs that are selected for the survey will be contacted by the Census Bureau during the summer of 2006. Participating centers will abstract approximately 12 records for each month in 2006. If for any reason a center cannot do the sampling and abstracting itself, then a trained Census Bureau staff member will be available to abstract the records, but the preferred method is for surgery program staff members to abstract the data from the center’s medical records, because they are most familiar with their records and better able to provide data of the highest quality.

For more information about the NSAS, go to and click on the link for "National Survey of Ambulatory Surgery" in the center of the page.