News | June 26, 2007

Joint Commission Announces 2008 Patient Safety Goals

June 27, 2007 -- The Joint Commission has announced the 2008 National Patient Safety Goals and related Requirements for each of its accreditation programs and its Disease-Specific Care Certification Program.

The Goals and Requirements, recently approved by the Joint Commission’s Board of Commissioners, apply to the nearly 15,000 Joint Commission-accredited and certified healthcare organizations and programs.

Major changes in this sixth annual issuance of National Patient Safety Goals include a new requirement to take specific actions to reduce the risks of patient harm associated with the use of anticoagulant therapy, and a new Goal and Requirement that address the recognition of, and response to unexpected deterioration in a patient’s condition.

The new anticoagulant therapy requirement addresses a widely acknowledged patient safety problem and becomes a key element of the Goal: Improve the safety of using medications. It is applicable to hospitals, critical access hospitals, ambulatory care and office-based surgery settings, and home care and long term care organizations.

The new Goal and Requirement respecting the deteriorating patient will ask hospitals and critical access hospitals to select a suitable method for enabling caregivers to directly request and obtain assistance from a specially-trained individual(s) if and when a patient’s condition worsens. Each of the foregoing new requirements has a one-year phase-in period that includes defined milestones. Full implementation is targeted for January 2009.

In addition, an existing requirement to assure the timely reporting of critical test results has been extended to the long term care program. Further, for all programs, the requirement that addresses hand hygiene also has been expanded to permit use of the World Health Organization (WHO) Hand Hygiene Guidelines as an alternative to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) hand hygiene guidelines.

Finally, the requirement to limit and standardize drug concentrations that is part of the Goal to improve the safety of using medications will be retired as a National Patient Safety Goal, but organization compliance will continue to be evaluated as part of the Medication Management standards.

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