At Joint Commission International (JCI) we are constantly learning and sharing the knowledge gleaned from over 55 years of experience working with many hospitals we accredited around the world. JCI is part of Joint Commission Resources (JCR), an affiliate of the Joint Commission, and we extend The Joint Commission’s mission worldwide as we work to improve the quality and safety of patient care around the globe.
Just as the Joint Commission accredits hospitals in the United States, part of our work at JCI is accrediting hospitals internationally to ensure they are providing safe, quality care. This past July, we updated our accreditation standards to reflect our learning over the past 4 years. Our standards were first developed in 1999 and last updated in 2003. The new standards will take effect January 1, 2008.
JCI’s new standards focus additional attention on patient safety, a key priority of JCI. For example, we now have a separate chapter in our manual on medication use standards since medication errors are among the most common threats to patient safety. Our new approach better examines all facets of medication safety, from proper storage to proper dispensing. We look at all the different places where problems can occur and keep patients from getting the proper medicines.
Our new standards also better ensure hospital personnel have the proper qualifications and credentials to do the procedure they perform. We have increased requirements for how hospitals review credentials of health care providers by now insisting they not only gather licenses and different certifications, but also validate these with the primary source.
We consider it critically important that physicians and nurses have the training they need and claim to have on their applications. In addition, we have stricter requirements on what trainees – both doctors and nurses – can do without supervision. We intend to make sure trainees are adequately monitored and directed by seasoned and credentialed professionals.
Along with patient safety, our new standards focus more on patient rights. To ensure health care settings provide uniform care 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, we are paying closer attention to the quality of care provided in the middle of the night and on weekends. We are also requiring that patient care be planned out and written down within 24 hours of admission. This means physicians can’t wait days to see a patient and run tests.
Finally, with concern about possible disease outbreaks such as SARS and Avian Flu, we have heightened standards for isolation procedures and other infection prevention protection precautions. Our standards require that hospitals have isolation rooms with features including negative pressure and outside ventilation.
These new standards were developed after input from regional advisory councils, surveyors, consultants, and individual organizations. To learn more about the standards, you can visit the JCI website at www.jointcommissioninternational.com and download a copy of the standards free of charge. All 140 hospitals currently accredited by JCI will be expected to meet these new standards in the coming year. JCI accreditation is good for three years.
Karen Timmons is President and Chief Executive Officer of Joint Commission International.