The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations said today that all regular accreditation surveys will be unannounced, beginning in 2006. The shift to unannounced, rather than scheduled, visits by survey teams was characterized as an outgrowth of the commission's switch to a new process in 2004 that assumes continuous accreditation readiness. That new process "creates the expectation that each accreditation organization be in compliance with 100% of the Joint Commission's standards 100% of the time," said President Dennis O'Leary. "Organization leaders whom we talked to not only agreed with this expectation but further suggested that the next logical step would be the introduction of unannounced surveys." The agency's board of commissioners approved the change at its March 28-29 meeting The approach will be tested in 2004 and 2005 in as many as 100 organizations that have volunteered, starting with Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago, the commission said. Children's Memorial officials know only that their organization will be visited sometime in 2004. The commission, based in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., plans to continue conducting random daylong surveys on an unannounced basis -- until now the only situation in which providers don't know in advance that surveyors will be showing up at the door. The commission said it will disclose details about the change in survey approach in the coming months through educational programs, newsletters and other outreach activities. -- by John Morrissey
JCAHO surveys to be all surprises come 2006
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