Tag Archives: joint commission

AHCJ: Joint Commission site obscures information

In a letter to Mark R. Chassin , M.D.,  the Joint Commission‘s president and CEO, the Association of Health Care Journalists has suggested improvements to the commission’s Quality Check Web site, where many people go to find out whether to trust their local hospital.

The Web site also is a potentially useful tool for health-care journalists. “In a time of change in health care, the ability to do comprehensive research on local hospitals is more important than ever before,” the association’s letter said.

Among the problems identified:

  • Hospitals with any level of accreditation are given “The Gold Seal of Approval” – even those whose accreditation is conditional or at risk of being denied.
  • It’s difficult to find out which hospitals in a given region have less-than-full accreditation. To check on a hospital’s accreditation status, one has to open each individual profile. The Joint Commission once had a mechanism to sort hospitals by accreditation status, but that is no longer available.
  • After a hospital loses accreditation, its past Accreditation Quality Reports are eventually removed from the site, leaving only the facility’s name with no historical record.
  • There is no easy way to do a side-by-side comparison of more than six facilities simultaneously.

“The organization that accredits hospitals around the country, and voices support for transparency about hospital quality, has a Web site that obscures the reality of many hospitals’ performance,” said Charles Ornstein, AHCJ president.

Read  more about AHCJ’s letter to the Joint Commission.

Joint Commission finds improved hospital quality

The latest report from The Joint Commission, a hospital accrediting organization, finds that “overall, hospitals are following evidence-based standards for treatment of myocardial infarction, heart failure, and pneumonia,” as MedPage Today reports.

The report, which looks at 31 evidence-based measures, did find decreases in two areas: measuring oxygen in blood for pneumonia patients and administering antibiotics to pneumonia patients in the intensive care unit within 24 hours.

The report, “Improving America’s Hospitals: The Joint Commission’s Annual Report on Quality and Safety 2009,” (PDF) and those from three previous years are available on the commission’s Web site. Among the key findings:

  1. Hospitals accredited by The Joint Commission have significantly improved the quality of care provided to heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia patients over a seven-year period.
  2. Hospitals have steadily improved on individual surgical care performance measures – as well as on additional individual heart attack and pneumonia care measures – over a two-, three- or four-year period.
  3. Hospital performance on two individual measures of quality relating to inpatient care for childhood asthma is excellent after only one year of measurement.
  4. Improvement is still needed.
  5. Where a patient receives care makes a difference.

As ProPublica’s Charles Ornstein explains in his tip sheet, The Joint Commission does routine inspections of participating hospitals to ensure they meet the standards required for accreditation. It compiles public reports on each hospital, which are available on the qualitycheck.org Web site. These reports include the hospital’s accreditation status, as well as some data on hospital outcomes and practices.

It does not release its detailed inspection reports to the public, and many states’ open records laws specifically exempt the reports from public disclosure. In the past, these inspections have not been surprises, and the group has been faulted for being slow to act against hospitals with problems Also, The Joint Commission rarely takes punitive steps against hospitals, preferring to work with them to improve.

Tip Sheets

A road map for covering your local hospital’s quality

Sorting out hospital rankings

Study: Hospital quality comparisons are inconsistent

News: Congress requires Joint Commission to re-apply for accreditation privileges (Sept. 17, 2008)