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The Oakbrook Terrace, IL-based Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has proposed a set of new standards aimed at assessing staffing effectiveness, which the Joint Commission defines as "the number, competency, and skill mix of staff respecting the provision of needed services." In a March 14 letter, Dennis O’Leary, MD, president of the Joint Commission, solicited feedback from providers on the proposed standards, noting that "the increasingly apparent national shortage of qualified professional personnel, coupled with the growing number of identified linkages between staffing effectiveness and patient safety, have created flashpoints of both concern and controversy in the health care field." O’Leary also criticized proposed legislation in some states that would mandate specific staff-to-patient ratios.
O’Leary acknowledged the difficulty of establishing measures of staffing effectiveness and said, "the screening measures that have been identified as part of this project can only be said to have a known potential association with staffing effectiveness." A panel of more than 100 performance measurement experts helped identify the screening indicators. (For the Joint Commission’s screening indicators, click here.) The indicators used by any given organization "would be selected in part from evidence-based measures identified by the Joint Commission, and in part by the organization itself to assure sensitivity of the screening indicators to its unique nature," he wrote.
O’Leary added that during on-site surveys, Joint Commission surveyors "would review the health care organization’s staffing plan, the organization’s actual staffing vs. the plan, the organization’s rational for screening indicator selection, the data collected for the chosen indicators, and the organization’s response to its analysis of the data."