SDS Accreditation Update

Don't skip any pages of AAAHC '08 manual

'Changes in every chapter'

Organizations accredited by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC) in Skokie, IL, won't have to make major changes to meet new and revised standards in 2008, but they do have to read the standards manual carefully.

"Almost the entire handbook has been revised, with changes in every chapter," says Michon Villanueva, assistant director of accreditationservices for the association. "There were some new standards approved, but the majority of the changes were to clarify what is required to meet each existing standard." Standards revisions will be incorporated into the 2008 version of the AAAHC Accreditation Handbook for Ambulatory Health Care and will take effect in March 2008.

For example, in Chapter 1, "Rights of Patients," there was a requirement that organizations provide information to patients to inform them of their rights and responsibilities. Now there is a more detailed listing of patient responsibilities, says Villanueva. Providing accurate information about medical history and medications, following a treatment plan, providing another person to provide transportation if necessary, and being respectful of health care providers and other patients are a few of the specific points that should be addressed in communication about patient responsibility, she says. "We are trying to set the bar higher for patient responsibility so that patients better understand the role they play in their care," Villanueva explains.

For surgical programs, the major change in Chapter 10, "Surgical and Related Services," is the division of the chapter into two subchapters, says Villanueva. "One subchapter addresses general requirements for organizations providing surgical services and the other subchapter addresses requirements for laser or light-based surgical services," she explains. The additional focus on laser and light-based surgical requirements is a reflection of the technological changes that the surgery field has experienced, she explains. "Our standards have been revised to reflect the changes as well as the additional steps that need to be taken in laser- or light-based surgery to ensure patient safety," she adds.

New requirement for drugs

Many of the revisions reflect the emphasis on patient safety, explains Villanueva. For example, in Chapter 15, "Pharmaceutical Services," wording was changed to expand the requirement for maintaining records to ensure safety of drug dispensing to include dispensing of sample medications as well, she says.

"This is a new requirement that outpatient surgery programs will need to keep in mind," Villanueva says.

Although the scope of revisions to each chapter of the standards manual will require outpatient surgery managers to read each section carefully, there should be no major process changes needed in AAAHC-accredited organizations, she says. "We've just tried to clarify information, focus on patient safety, and emphasize quality care."


For more information about Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care's 2008 standards, contact:

  • Michon Villanueva, Assistant Director of Accreditation, Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, 5250 Old Orchard Road, Suite 200 Skokie, IL 60077. Phone: (847) 853-6060. Fax: (847) 853-9028. E-mail:

At press time, the 2008 standards revisions were scheduled to be posted by Jan. 1. To view the revised standards, go to and choose "annual standards revisions" on the left navigational bar, then select "2008 standards revisions."