Empowered patients know they’re responsible for their choice of care providers. We usually follow our clinicians’ advice, but we take responsibility for it.
That’s hard when a quality agency obscures its findings. So I object to a reality reported this week by AHCJ, the Association of Health Care Journalists: Joint Commission site obscures information. Excerpt: (emphasis added)
“Among the problems identified:
- Hospitals with any level of accreditation are given “The Gold Seal of Approval” – even those whose accreditation is conditional or at risk of being denied.
- It’s difficult to find out which hospitals in a given region have less-than-full accreditation. To check on a hospital’s accreditation status, one has to open each individual profile. The Joint Commission once had a mechanism to sort hospitals by accreditation status, but that is no longer available.
- After a hospital loses accreditation, its past Accreditation Quality Reports are eventually removed from the site, leaving only the facility’s name with no historical record.
I spent some time looking around in the site, and indeed,when you list the hospitals in an area, you can’t see a thing about their status: you have to pick through the whole list, opening them one by one.
So I called the Joint Commission and was referred to someone in communications, who would only re-state the way it is, saying the information is there (if you dig through it). I repeatedly said that we want it to be easier to find. It’ll be interesting to see whether they change it back.
Joint Commission, please hear this: healthcare citizens need clear, easy access to this pivotal information: “What are my options, for quality, convenience and price?”
We want to make informed choices – especially on the quality of the provider who’s going to cut our mother open and then care for her. Please help us make informed choices. Make the differences easier to see.
Thanks to AHCJ for doing this work and reporting it; thanks to Paul Levy’s blog at Beth Israel Deaconess for bringing this up.
Related e-patient resources:
- Health News Review, a great place to learn how to think critically about published health information
- Trisha Torrey’s book You Bet Your Life: Ten Mistakes Every Patient Makes, which teaches patients to wise up about the business of healthcare.
TJC is also not patient friendly when a patient is harmed or dies an untimely death in a hospital. Their complaint system allows you to file a complaint against a hospital. TJC then sends a letter to the hospital asking for a response to the complaint, and then they evaluate it. The patient/their family has no chance for rebuttal, can’t gain access to any part of the ‘investigation’ process at all, and is basically told that they have to just accept a canned letter of response stating that “they take these complaints seriously.”
We all have to remember that TJC’s first allegiance is to hospitals. They are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by hospitals to provide education/evaluations/& feedback on how they can improve. But they are in no way, shape or form a regulatory or patient safety organization that puts patients interests first.
This is why we need a patient protection agency with teeth. No one is at the helm of looking out for patients. When patients are harmed by care (too often), the only system of accountability currently available are the courts. TJC, Medical Boards, State Healtcare Facility Licensing Departments are either wrought with conflicts of interest, or are underfunded and unequipped to provide any accountability.
TJC recently lost their deemed status with The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid because 2 Government Accountability Office Reports revealed just how fraught they are with conflicts of interest with the very hospitals they serve. Sadlly, this doesn’t serve patients interests at all.
Lori, can you say more or provide a link re CMS status?
Agreed about a patient protection agency with teeth. Great idea. Does anything like that exist but lacks teeth?
Here’s a link to an accurate summary of the Joint Commission losing it’s deemed status. In essence, they will have to apply for deemed status just like other accreditation agencies do.
It will no longer be handed to them because of the history they have of conflicts of interest with the hospital industry; as a result, they are reportedly ramping up their standards, but this won’t be enough. We need a true regulatory agency that acts on behalf of patients/consumers of healthcare. Medical errors are in the top ten leading causes of death in the US. For the past two years, septicemia alone has moved into tenth place, ahead of suicide for leading causes. Septicemia often = hospital acquired infection which leads to septicemia and multiple organ failure.
here’s the link to several Government Accountability Office (GAO) Reports on this issue:
(type in The Joint Commission on Hospital Accreditation in the search bar)
Thanks for this follow-up, Lori. I confess I’ve never heard about “deeming status” – can you explain that in layman’s terms, as you’d describe it to a friend at a coffee shop? (‘Cause that’s pretty much all I am… :))
Interesting conversation on the Healthcareblog about this issue. Michael Millenson’s Hospital Quality Group Obscures Hospital Quality Reports, Journalists Charge
“deemed status” is essentially CMS (or Medicare / Medicaid) giving the power to a 3rd party organization to find individual healthcare providers ‘worthy’ of being paid for providing services to Medicare / Medicaid beneficiaries.
It had been the case that TJC had perpetual deemed status… the ‘favorite son’ if you will.
Recently, however, as a result of some tussles between CMS and TJC, it was decided that (1) it’s a bad idea to have an institution with ‘perpetual’ deemed status, and (2) it’s bad to have just one organization providing quality and safety oversight.
CMS has now also approved DNV as an alternative accreditor of hospital services for Medicare / Medicaid reimbursement.
I’m hoping to open a new small business, specifically a coffee shop, so I’ve been searching the web for inspiration. Your posts have helped give me some new ideas, so thanks for the new ideas.