30 moves from The Joint Commission in 2023

In  2023, The Joint Commission has overhauled accreditation standards, elevated health equity to a national patient safety goal, launched a new certification program and more. 

Below are 30 actions and updates from the accrediting body Becker's has covered since the start of the year, starting with the most recent. 

1. The Joint Commission revised its sentinel event policy to provide an expanded definition for suicide deaths that hospitals report to the organization. The revised definition takes effect Jan. 1 and applies to deaths caused by self-inflicted injurious behaviors while in a healthcare setting or within seven days of discharge from inpatient services, the ED or a behavioral healthcare facility.  

2. The Joint Commission is expanding its executive team with the addition of a chief brand and communications officer and a commercial officer. Leslie Krohn was named executive vice president and chief brand and communications officer, and Jason Miles was named vice president and commercial officer, the accrediting body said Dec. 19. 

3. As part of its accreditation process, acute care and critical access hospitals will be required to join The Joint Commission National Healthcare Safety Network, the organization noted in a Nov. 1 news release. 

4. In October, the organization updated its 20-year-old guidance on preventing surgical fires and burns. The sentinel event alert, which replaces the guidance published in 2003, suggests hospitals focus on the "fire triangle," which refers to oxygen, ignition sources and fuel. 

5. The Joint Commission issued a quick safety advisory Oct. 9 with best practices for the early identification of severe pressure injuries. The advisory encourages clinicians to look for certain warning signs and symptoms that may suggest a severe pressure injury, as wounds can be more severe than is visible to the naked eye.

6. Falls were the most frequently reported sentinel events in the first half of the year, according to data The Joint Commission shared with Becker's in October. See more on the list of the most frequently reported sentinel events here

7. The Joint Commission announced a new, voluntary certification for hospitals and health systems to achieve sustainable healthcare practices in September. Both Joint Commission accredited and nonaccredited hospitals and health systems can begin to pursue the voluntary sustainable healthcare certification starting in January. 

8. On Aug. 21, the organization updated medication compounding requirements for hospitals to better align with national practice standards. 

9. The Joint Commission acquired the National Quality Forum in August. The organizations said the goal is to consolidate quality measures, with the NQF maintaining its independence in developing consensus-based measures, implementation guidance and practices that benefit stakeholders. Both will build on measuring quality and rationalizing the measurement landscape. 

10. In August, the accrediting body released a list of recommendations for hospitals to protect patients after a cyberattack. Read the recommendations here

11. In late July, The Joint Commission said it was eliminating 200 additional standards from its accreditation programs for ambulatory and behavioral health centers, critical access hospitals, laboratories and nursing homes The changes became effective Aug. 27 and mark the second major set of reductions.

12. Cleveland Clinic's Chief Clinical Transformation Officer James Merlino, MD, was selected to serve as The Joint Commission's executive vice president and chief innovation officer, effective Aug. 1. 

13. The Joint Commission and the Alzheimer's Association partnered to create a Memory Care Certification for Assisted Living Communities, which launched July 1. 

14. On July 5, the accrediting body said it will no longer require hospitals to provide evidence of COVID-19 vaccine compliance, effective immediately.

15. CMS will remove the perinatal care electronic clinical quality measure ePC-05 (exclusive breast milk feeding during the newborn's entire hospitalization) from the Inpatient Quality Reporting Program on Jan. 1, 2024. The Joint Commission said it will continue to support "exclusive breast milk feeding for the first six months of neonatal life," and maintain the measure for optional use "in ORYX® reporting."

16. The Joint Commission identified the most challenging compliance standards — those most frequently listed as "not compliant" in hospitals — in 2022, according to surveys completed from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2022. Implementation of infection prevention protocols for disinfection and sterilization of medical equipment, devices and supplies was the number one challenge. Read more here

17. The Joint Commission launched a voluntary Health Care Equity Certification Program, which opened by application to all of its accredited hospitals as well as critical access hospitals July 1. 

18. The patient safety organization elevated health equity from a leadership standard to a national patient safety goal. The change took effect July 1.

19. Ahead of National Time Out Day on June 14, the accrediting body shared ways to make surgical time outs more effective and engaging. The tips are focused on the site marking process, given errors in this step are often the cause of wrong site surgery. 

20. Several of The Joint Commission's elements of performance for critical access hospitals will be added or revised to align with CMS' final rule published in the Federal Register in November.— regarding restraint and seclusion as well as the complaint process

21. The Joint Commission named three people to its executive leadership team May 1, each of whom will report to the organization's president and CEO, Jonathan Perlin, MD, PhD. 

22. Orthopedic services are the most frequently cited in wrong-site surgery claims, according to an analysis of closed claims data published in the May edition of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety. Read more findings from the study that explored wrong-site surgery risk factors here

23. In a quick safety advisory published April 10, The Joint Commission shared recommendations on how to prevent light source-related burns that can occur during laparoscopic or arthroscopic procedures.

24. The Joint Commission published its 2022 review of sentinel event data April 4. There were 1,441 sentinel events reported last year and the most prevalent types were falls, delay in treatment, unintended retention of foreign object, wrong surgery, and suicide. 

25. In April, the organization published an updated version of its "Big Book of Checklists," which provides health systems with tools that can be used to prepare in advance of the surveyors' arrival. The latest edition of the book covers topics including healthcare equity, worker safety, cybersecurity, workplace violence prevention and telehealth.  

26. In late March, the accrediting body issued a quick safety advisory with best practices and guidelines related to suicide risk screening. 

27. The Joint Commission partnered with Manchester Specialty Programs to provide insurance pricing benefits to Joint Commission-accredited nursing homes, assisted living facilities, home care, hospice and medical staffing firms.

28. In January, the patient safety group published two new alerts to reduce morbidity and mortality in pregnant and postpartum patients: a sentinel alert on eliminating racial and ethnic disparities, and a safety advisory on mental health conditions as the leading cause of pregnancy-related deaths. 

29. In January, The Joint Commission named three new members to its board of commissioners, including Susan Fox, president and CEO of White Plains (N.Y.) Hospital.

30. The organization is eliminating 168 standards (14 percent) and revising another 14 standards in an effort to make its accreditation programs as "efficient and impactful on patient safety, quality and equity as possible." Read more on the overhaul of quality metrics here

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