Beginning with the 2003 year, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) will annually establish six National Patient Safety Goals as part of its intensive efforts to reduce errors in health care. CME providers may want to consider an added emphasis on educating physicians about patient safety issues as a result.
The first set of goals, derived from existing issues of JCAHO's patient safety newsletter Sentinel Event Alert, will be announced in July 2002. Each goal will include one or two succinct, evidence-based or expert recommendations. Beginning January 1 of the following year, health care organizations providing relevant care will be surveyed for compliance with the recommendations or implementation of an acceptable alternative. Non-compliance will result in a Requirement for Improvement (Type I Recommendation).
The plan, approved this month by JCAHO's Board of Commissioners, will create a focus on specific patient safety issues in accredited organizations. 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 October 2001.
"Great strides are being made in improving patient safety, but we want organizations to concentrate on widely recognized vulnerabilities in the way care is provided," says Dennis S. O'Leary, M.D., president, JCAHO. "This requires much more than band-aid fixes. Organizations need to re-design safety into their systems."
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 will also 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 re-evaluated each year. In succeeding years, certain goals and recommendations will likely 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 is expected to be completed.