The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has proposed a model for assessing the effectiveness of healthcare staffing that would eventually become part of its accreditation process. The proposal is scant on details.
The model tries to offer staffing guidelines without requiring specific ratios, the JCAHO said. Nurse-to-patient ratios, ordered by law in California, have sparked bitter disputes among hospitals, nurses and unions.
The JCAHO has what it calls "a new approach to assessing staffing effectiveness that does not depend on staffing ratios but rather utilizes an evidence-based model that relies on the application of sets of clinical and human resource indicators to screen for potential staffing issues."
The JCAHO's news release and the proposed standards are available at www.jcaho.org. JCAHO officials couldn't be reached for clarification before deadline.
One proposed standard calls for "an adequate number of qualified staff" to be determined by each "organization's mission and patient population."
Hospitals and other healthcare organizations are expected to test-pilot the draft standards later this spring; an implementation timeline was not available.
The JCAHO is "trying to come up with some type of standardization to really look at nurse staffing according to patient acuity," said Mary Ann Cardinali, vice president of operations and chief nursing executive for 764-bed Christ Hospital and Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill. "That's the best way to treat patients."
The commission sent its draft standards with a letter dated March 14 to more than 5,000 individuals and organizations and set an April 15 deadline for comments. In the letter, JCAHO President Dennis O'Leary, M.D., said "linkages between staffing effectiveness and patient safety" create a compelling need "for an objective, methodologically sound approach to assessing staffing effectiveness."