Beginning next January, all hospitals accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations will have to prove they comply with hand-washing practices set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of a directive aimed at reducing the risk of acquiring infections during healthcare treatment. As the second part of the directive, providers also will be required to report and submit a plan of correction for all identified cases of unanticipated death or major, permanent loss of function associated with a healthcare-acquired infection. The last requirement underscores a JCAHO alert issued early this year that called on hospitals to treat nosocomial infections as sentinel events. The directive was added to six existing "National Patient Safety Goals" established last year as a condition of JCAHO accreditation. The initial goals, still applicable in 2004, address giving the right medication to the right patient, operating on the correct body part, and preventing life-threatening doses of drugs or chemicals from getting into intravenous lines. Another directive established last year, to read back verbal and telephone orders to verify their accuracy, was expanded for 2004 to include reading back critical test results communicated verbally. Read the 2004 patient safety goals. -- by John Morrissey
JCAHO adds to national patient safety goals
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