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The Joint Commission, until 2007 the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO, pronounced "jay-co"),[1] is a US-based non-profit organization formed in 1951 with a mission to maintain and elevate the standards of healthcare delivery through evaluation and accreditation of healthcare organizations.

The Joint Commission employs surveyors who are sent to healthcare organizations to evaluate their operational practices and facilities. Since January 1, 2006, all surveys are unannounced, as opposed to a scheduled evaluation which in the past allowed institutions to get ready for an evaluation. Organizations deemed to be in compliance with all applicable standards are "accredited" (previously organizations were given a score from 1-100, with 100 being a “perfect” score). Hospitals and some other types of healthcare organizations are highly motivated to do well during surveys, as accredited organizations are deemed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to meet the Medicare and Medicaid certification requirements -- necessary for gaining reimbursement from Medicare and managed care organizations.

However, hospitals pass Joint Commission audits at a 99% rate, leading many, including the Washington Post, to analyze and report on interest conflicts at the Joint Commission.[2]

Joint Commission goals and initiatives

The stated mission of the Joint Commission is: To continuously improve the safety and quality of care provided to the public through the provision of health care accreditation and related services that support performance improvement in health care organizations. The accrediting body updates its accreditation standards and expands patient safety goals on a yearly basis and posts them on its website for all interested persons to review, making this information and process transparent to all stakeholders ranging from institutions, to practitioners, to patients and their advocates. The below quote is taken directly from the Joint Commission website.

The purpose of the Joint Commission’s National Patient Safety Goals is to promote specific improvements in patient safety. The Goals highlight problematic areas in health care and describe evidence and expert-based solutions to these problems. Recognizing that sound system design is intrinsic to the delivery of safe, high quality health care, the Goals focus on system-wide solutions, wherever possible.

Patient safety goals for 2007

  • Goal 1 Improve the accuracy of patient identification.
  • Goal 2 Improve the effectiveness of communication among caregivers.
  • Goal 3 Improve the safety of using medications.
  • Goal 7 Reduce the risk of health care-associated infections.
  • Goal 8 Accurately and completely reconcile medications across the continuum of care to prevent medication errors.
  • Goal 9 Reduce the risk of patient harm resulting from falls.
  • Goal 10 Reduce the risk of influenza and pneumococcal disease in institutionalized older adults.
  • Goal 11 Reduce the risk of surgical fires.
  • Goal 12 Implementation of applicable National Patient Safety Goals and associated requirements by components and practitioner sites.
  • Goal 13 Encourage patients’ active involvement in their own care as a patient safety strategy.
  • Goal 14 Prevent health care-associated pressure ulcers (decubitus ulcers).
  • Goal 15 The organization identifies safety risks inherent in its patient population.

International accreditation

Joint Commission International (JCI) extends the Joint Commission’s mission worldwide. It accredits hospitals in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and South America.[3]. There are other accreditation organisations which fulfill a similar internationally-orientated role to JCI, including:

- The Canadian Council on Health Services Accreditation, or CCHSA (see

- The Trent Accreditation Scheme (TAS) in the United Kingdom and Hong Kong (see

- The Australian Council on Healthcare Standards, or ACHS (see

See also

  • Hospital
  • Patient safety
  • Patient safety organization


  1. The Joint Commission Launches New Brand Identity. Published January 11, 2007; accessed February 12, 2007.
  2. The Washington Post: Accreditors Blamed for Overlooking Problems by Gilbert M. Gaul (July 7, 2005)
  3. List of JCI accredited organizations [1]

External links

de:Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations
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