Experts say they're not sure what to expect of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations' plans to form an international patient-safety center, but they welcome its emphasis on promoting medical-error prevention.
The commission announced plans to establish the center March 11, saying a lack of coordinated patient-safety initiatives-within and outside its walls-has hampered efforts to wipe out medical mistakes.
The JCAHO and its consulting and education subsidiary, Joint Commission Resources, will establish the center to collect, analyze and promote successful patient-safety initiatives, as well as coordinate its own efforts, JCAHO President Dennis O'Leary said. The Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based accrediting body named Peter Angood, a University of Massachusetts surgery professor, to oversee the center as vice president and chief patient-safety officer.
Angood said his first priority would be launching a Web site to make broadly available free research, resources and referrals to a wide variety of established, well-recognized healthcare quality and safety organizations. JCR will market any products or in-depth analysis eventually developed by the international patient-safety center, said Charlene Hill, a JCAHO spokeswoman.
The newly created not-for-profit center has no budget and will be jointly operated, though not incorporated, by the JCAHO and JCR, Hill said. Angood; Richard Croteau, JCAHO's executive director of strategic initiatives; and Laura Botwinick, a JCR executive currently on leave for an Institute for Healthcare Improvement fellowship, will be the center's three full-time staff members.
National Patient Safety Foundation President Diane Pinakiewicz said she's uncertain how the JCAHO's newly created center will work with existing patient-safety organizations, but she expects to learn more at a mid-April meeting with JCAHO officials.
"One thing is for sure," she said. "The work of patient safety is broad and all-encompassing and, by necessity, it needs to be collaborative," not competitive, she said.
Pinakiewicz said the JCAHO's broadening effort may create an opportunity for established patient-safety organizations to cross-promote their efforts. The patient-safety foundation, for example, already has its own repository of resources, as do many others, she said. "We're just going to have to figure out how best to use this new energy," she said.
Maureen Bisognano, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, said she knew few details of the planned JCAHO center but welcomed an effort to collect patient-safety data and connect experts. No one U.S. organization acts as a linchpin for the broad array of corporate, government and industry efforts to reduce medical errors, she said. "The agenda in safety is huge," Bisognano said, and any additional investment is appreciated. "All of us are working to the same end, and that's wonderful," she said.