JCAHO releases new goals, requires flu vaccine

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) has announced the 2007 National Patient Safety Goals, and major changes include extending a requirement that accredited organizations define and communicate the means for patients and their families to report concerns about safety. This new goals applies to all organization accredited and certified by the Joint Commission.

The requirement — first applied to the home care, laboratory, assisted living, and disease-specific care programs in 2006 — is the central expectation of the goal: "Encourage patients' active involvement in their own care as a patient safety strategy."

In addition, a new requirement specifies that behavioral health care organizations and general acute care hospitals that treat patients for emotional or behavioral disorders identify patients at risk for suicide. This requirement is part of the goal: "The organization identifies safety risks inherent in its patient populations."

For home care organizations, a corresponding requirement under this goal stipulates that these organizations are to identify risks associated with long-term oxygen therapy such as home fires.

Provide patient with meds list

Finally, new language in one of the two requirements under the existing medication reconciliation goal stipulates that a complete list of current medications be provided to the patient on discharge from care. This expectation is applicable to the ambulatory care, assisted living, behavioral health care, critical access hospital, disease-specific care, home care, hospital, long-term care, and office-based surgery programs.

The full text of the 2007 goals and requirements is posted on the Joint Commission web site at www.jointcommission.org/PatientSafety/NationalPatientSafetyGoals.

In other developments, the Joint Commission made these announcements:

  • A new infection control standard requires hospitals, critical access hospitals, and long-term care facilities to offer influenza vaccinations to staff, which include volunteers, and licensed independent practitioners. Currently, only about 35% of health care workers are vaccinated each year, the Joint Commission reports. The requirement is effective Jan. 1, 2007.
  • Revised Standard EC.7.40 now requires organizations to test their emergency generators at least once every 36 months for a minimum of four continuous hours. This test is in addition to the current requirement to test emergency generators 12 times each year for 30 continuous minutes. The new requirement is effective Jan. 1, 2007, and organizations must have performed this test by July 1, 2007, to be in initial compliance.