Joint Commission recognizes CARF accreditation for rehab units

Dual surveys eliminated beginning in 1998

Hospital-based rehab units will be able to avoid dual accreditation surveys beginning in 1998, thanks to a cooperative agreement by CARF...The Rehabilitation Accreditation Commission in Tuscon, AZ, and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health-care Organizations in Oakbrook Terrace, IL.

The agreement stipulates that the Joint Commission will recognize CARF-accredited rehabilitation programs within hospitals beginning Aug. 1, 1998. The Joint Commission also agreed to recognize CARF’s network standards for health care networks, large systems, and managed care organizations. The decision was made at a joint meeting of the commissions’ boards on July 11.

Earlier this year, the two major accrediting bodies agreed to conduct a joint survey for freestanding rehabilitation hospitals that want to be accredited by both organizations. (For more information on that development, see Rehab Continuum Report, March 1997, pp. 29-30.) CARF and the Joint Commis-sion began discussing collaborative surveys in 1993 to reduce the burden of accreditation while capitalizing on the expertise of the two organizations, says Donald E. Galvin, PhD, CARF’s president and chief executive officer.

They compared their standards for consistency using a method known as "cross-walking." With CARF and the Joint Commission, the standards that are not rehab-specific do match, says Chris MacDonnel, national director of CARF’s medical rehabilitation division. The Joint Commission-CARF agreement is part of CARF’s cooperative accreditation initiative, MacDonnel says.

CARF and the Professional Services Board (PSB) of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) have had a joint accreditation process since August 1995.

The CARF-ASHA initiative gives any program seeking accreditation from CARF the opportunity to gain ASHA/PSB accreditation at the same time for audiology and speech-language pathology services.

That joint survey follows the CARF format and is reviewed by the ASHA/PSB staff, the CARF staff, and the CARF board of trustees.

You still must file 2 applications

Under the Joint Commission-CARF accreditation initiative for free-standing rehab facilities, which was instituted earlier this year, free-standing rehab hospitals seeking accreditation from CARF and the Joint Commission must file two applications and pay the customary fees to each organization.

However, surveyors from both the Joint Commission and CARF will visit the hospital at the same time and will conduct some joint activities, including document reviews, the opening conference, the leadership interview, departmental interviews, visits to patient care settings, daily briefings, and the leadership exit conference.

Each accrediting body will issue its own accreditation decision, based on its own standards, and will compile its own survey report.

The benefit of the combined survey process will be the reduction of time, effort, and costs associated with preparing for two separate surveys. Because some of the conferences and interviews are conducted jointly, the amount of time for the cooperative survey will be less than that for two separate surveys.