JCAHO recently altered the 2005 requirements for meeting National Patient Safety Goal 2b that requires organizations to standardize abbreviations, acronyms, and symbols used throughout the organization, including a list of abbreviations, acronyms, and symbols not to use.
JCAHO modified the goal so that it applies only to orders and medication-related documents, a reduced requirement. The goal applies to preprinted forms, for which 100% compliance is expected. This change extends the requirement beyond handwritten documentation, but it is a reduced requirement from that originally planned for 2005.
The minimum expected level of compliance for handwritten documentation remains at 90%, JCAHO explains. In 2001, the Joint Commission issued a Sentinel Event Alert on the subject of medical abbreviations and implemented the National Patient Safety Goal as an accreditation requirement in 2003.
During 2003 surveys, approximately 15% of accredited organizations were found to be out of compliance with the abbreviations requirement. In 2004, the Joint Commission sought to further address this issue by issuing a "minimum list" of dangerous abbreviations, acronyms and symbols that must not be used.