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The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations plans to develop a new approach to assess the effectiveness of staffing in health care organizations nationwide. The new process will use performance indicators to screen for potential staffing issues and will be pilot tested in 2001.
The effort is part of the Joint Commission’s continuing commitment to identify and address potential opportunities to improve patient care quality and patient safety throughout its accreditation process. Effective staffing has been identified as a current issue of significant concern among health care professionals and the public.
The new assessment initiative, approved by a task force on accreditation process improvement, will draw upon both human resources and clinical outcome measures. Human resources measures will encompass all staff who provide health care services — including direct patient caregivers, such as registered nurses and respiratory therapists, as well as clinical support professionals responsible for pharmacy, laboratory, and radiology services. The approach is designed to emphasize the relationship between human resources and clinical outcomes, and recognizes that no single measure can reliably describe staffing effectiveness.
Two groups of measures — those identified by the Joint Commission and those self-selected and defined by each health care organization based on its unique characteristics — will be used. The fully developed approach will reflect the consensus of a broad-based expert panel convened by the Joint Commission in September 2000. Approximately 100 panel participants shared ideas on the best ways to improve the commission’s current approach to the assessment of staffing effectiveness and provided recommendations regarding those indicators which collectively would best serve as a screening mechanism for identifying staffing issues.
Current Joint Commission standards require accredited health care organizations to determine and provide the right number of qualified and competent staff to meet the needs of patients. Those determinations usually are based on internal formulae that reflect the numbers of patients and how sick they are.