News Brief: JCAHO to create six patient safety goals

Starting next year, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) annually will establish six national patient safety goals as part of its efforts to reduce errors in health care.

The first set of goals, derived from existing issues of JCAHO’s patient safety newsletter Sentinel Event Alert, will be announced this July. Each goal will include one or two succinct, evidence-based, or expert recommendations.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2003, health care organizations providing relevant care will be surveyed for compliance with the recommendations or implementation of an acceptable alternative. Noncompliance will result in a Requirement for Improvement or Type I Recommendation.

The application of National Patient Safety Goals will replace an earlier effort to survey compliance with all Sentinel Event Alert recommendations, a practice that was discontinued in Oct. 2001.

A Sentinel Event Alert advisory group comprised of physicians, nurses, risk managers, and other health care experts will guide the identification of the national patient safety goals. The advisory group also will assess the evidence for and validity of past and future Sentinel Event Alert recommendations, as well as the practicalities of implementation. Goals and recommendations will be reevaluated each year. In succeeding years, certain goals and recommendations likely will be continued, while others are replaced with higher priority goals.

Aggregate data on achievement of the goals will be made public each year, but individual organization compliance information will not be disclosed until 2004 when the reformatting of JCAHO organization performance reports should be completed.

In other JCAHO news, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced that Medicare+Choice organizations licensed as health maintenance organizations and preferred provider organizations accredited by JCAHO will be "deemed" for meeting Medicare certification requirements.

This authority allows the JCAHO-accredited HMOs and PPOs to be deemed in six categories: anti-discrimination, access to services, quality-assurance programs, confidentiality and accuracy of enrollee records, information on advance directives, and rules regarding provider participation.

In addition to Medicare+Choice HMOs and PPOs, deemed status options are available for Joint Commission accredited ambulatory surgical centers, clinical laboratories, home health agencies, hospice organizations, and hospitals.

[For more information about JCAHO’s Medicare+Choice deemed status for HMOs and PPOs, please contact Gina Val Zimmermann at (630) 792-5293.]