Are Public Inspection Reports Coming?

Following the Wall Street Journal article that questioned the validity of The Joint Commission’s accreditation practices, the government has stepped up inquiries into the hospital accreditation process. The Joint Commission, as the largest accreditation agency, is now under increased scrutiny and hospitals may be exposed as a result.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa) has sent a letter to Seema Verma, the head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. In the letter, Sen. Grassley asks Ms. Verma what statutory changes would be required to make hospital inspection reports public.  As this article by Ilene MacDonald at Fierce Healthcare noted:

“In his letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma, Grassley brought up the Wall Street Journal report that gave examples of the Joint Commission’s failure to hold hospitals accountable for safety violations.

“The Joint Commission appears to be unable to aggressively enforce the necessary standards on all facilities,” he wrote, noting that the newspaper reported 30 incidents in which hospitals retained their full accreditation even though CMS deemed the violations so significant they were likely to cause a risk of serious patient injury or death.

“Making facility inspections reports public may go a long way to providing the necessary additional information for patients and their families to make informed decisions about where to seek care,” he wrote.

Grassley asked for a CMS response by Oct. 2.

Joint Commission spokeswoman Elizabeth Eaken Zhani told FierceHealthcare on Wednesday that the accreditor “steadfastly supports putting valid, useful data on quality of care in the hands of the public” and has been doing just that for more than 20 years.

“We and others continue to support dialogue between government and federal stakeholders and accreditation organizations to identify a more effective strategy for educating the public while ensuring necessary confidentiality for healthcare quality improvement,” she said. “This balance between disclosure and confidentiality is a foundation of accreditation and quality improvement not only in healthcare but in nearly all other industries.”

Read the entire article here: Grassley urges feds to find a way to make hospital accreditation reports public

Is your hospital ready for your inspection reports to be made public?  This may be an inevitability now that the focus has been put on The Joint Commission by Sen. Grassley. To prepare, hospitals have to make sure that they are following all of their detailed processes all of the time. Any breakdown in your processes would be made public via an inspection report, putting your hospital’s reputation and finances at risk. Consider automation tools that help track the processes that The Joint Commission and other accreditation agencies focus on during their inspections. Systems such as iRIScope have been developed to ensure that processes and protocols are being followed since your managers can’t watch over every step of the way.