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Groups push for transparency in Joint Commission’s hospital accreditation surveys

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

The Lexington Herald-Leader‘s Jim Warren reports that about 50 advocacy groups, including the Consumers Union and Mothers against Medical Error, have joined forces to ask Congress to make the survey data behind hospital accreditation freely available to the public.

Their main target is The Joint Commission, a non-profit group that sets performance standards and is hired by hospitals and other health-care organizations to measure whether they meet those standards. In many states, Joint Commission accreditation is the basis for hospital licensure. It conducts extensive surveys every three years or so, and funds its efforts by charging hospitals upward of $45,000 for the privilege of being evaluated.

The Joint Commission’s disclosure practices last made headlines in January when, in response to pressure from AHCJ’s Right to Know Committee, it made accreditation information more readily available online.

For help finding and understanding Joint Commission reports and similar sources, AHCJ members can check out board president Charles Ornstein’s latest guide to Deciphering Hospital Quality Data, in which he addresses the strengths and weaknesses of myriad data sources and provides pointers on how to access and utilize them.