The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has completed its long-awaited restructuring of accreditation requirements for hospitals, cutting in half the number of standards that providers must follow to gain or renew accreditation.
The results of a standard-by-standard review that pared standards to 260 from 550 will be posted June 16 on the JCAHO's Web site, www.jcaho.org, a spokeswoman said last week.
A task force evaluated each standard for clarity and relevance and determined whether any required unnecessary documentation, said Charles Mowll, executive vice president of business development, government and external relations. Among the changes, four chapters of the accreditation manual were consolidated into one, merging similar requirements that had been considered separately under each heading, Mowll said.
The revamp was launched two years ago after complaints from the American Hospital Association about unreasonable burdens and questionable benefits of accreditation compared with the costs of preparing for JCAHO surveys, as well as increased public pressure for performance requirements that focus on accountability for patient safety and quality of care (May 7, 2001, p. 5).
The JCAHO will publish a new accreditation manual in early fall, but the Internet posting will give hospitals time to familiarize themselves with the reformatted standards for surveys scheduled in early 2004, said spokeswoman Charlene Hill. The revised standards do not require a vote by the JCAHO board of commissioners, she said.
The streamlining also makes room for new standards governing emerging safety issues. Within the past two years, the JCAHO has added standards on emergency preparedness, nurse-staffing effectiveness and patient-safety practices, and the commission earlier this month proposed a standard aimed at reducing overcrowding and delays in patient care in the emergency department (May 19, p. 6). Mowll said recently added quality and patient-safety standards are included in the revision.