The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations last week detailed the steps it will take to release organization-specific accredit-atation reports that are fair to providers but accessible to the public.
JCAHO President Dennis O'Leary, M.D., said an organization will be able to write a two-page commentary in the 30 days it has to examine its report before it becomes publicly available.
The first wave of reports covering 700 hospitals and 700 other provider organizations was mailed to accredited providers last week (Oct. 24, p. 14).
Dr. O'Leary said an organization doesn't have to provide a commentary. If it does, it will be included in an annual publication of all such disclosure reports. The first is scheduled for mid- to late-1995 for surveys conducted in 1994.
The JCAHO also will send the commentary out with disclosure reports if the subject provider chooses, Dr. O'Leary said at a Chicago news conference.
After the first wave of reports is out, the JCAHO will settle into a routine of creating the disclosure reports as surveys are completed, contested and made final, JCAHO executives said.
Existing reports also will be subject to revision as accredited organizations alter their operations in response to recommendations from surveyors.
"These individual performance reports will be dynamic, they will change over time, and as organizations change their performance, hopefully for the better, those findings will be incorporated into the reports," Dr. O'Leary said. "And, of course, organizations will be given an opportunity to update their commentary."
One hospital administrator who received a "pre-release" copy of his hospital's report on Oct. 5 recommended careful scrutiny for obvious errors.
Walter Donalson, administrator of Polk General Hospital in Bartow, Fla., said the scores in his report seemed substantially lower than he would have expected based on the final surveyors' report and comments.
For example, judging from the comments on the survey, infection control appeared to be "a pretty minor problem," but the hospital was graded down to a 50 out of a possible perfect score of 100, he said.
On the other hand, "we were fortunate to have made a 100 on radiation/oncology. That was interesting because we don't have a radiation/oncology department," Mr. Donalson said.
In addition, he said he received a copy in the mail of the disclosure report meant for Saginaw (Mich.) General Hospital.
When he called to inform hospital officials, the administrator there said he had Polk General's report.
"My concern was that with all the flak the Joint Commission has been receiving, to release erroneous reports was going to erode their applicability to use them in the future," he said.