Joint Commission shines spotlight on healthcare safety

The Joint Commission released new guidance this week urging hospital leaders to foster and maintain a culture of safety within their organization

The 2015 Comprehensive Accreditation Manual for Hospitals includes a new "Patient Safety Systems" chapter, which it describes as a blueprint that leaders can use to achieve an integrated approach to patient safety.

The accreditation agency is so committed to patient safety that for the first time it will make the entire chapter available online to all hospitals and the public.

"This information is so important that we want everyone to have access to it. A solid foundation for patient safety is a safety culture. For leaders, our hope is they will study this chapter and use it as a tool to build or improve their safety culture program," Ana Pujols McKee, M.D., executive vice president and chief medical officer at the Joint Commission, said in the announcement.

The chapter is designed for members of the C-suite because leadership engagement is necessary to establish a safety culture, according to the Joint Commission. The standards will help leaders create an environment where the C-suite and staff can work together and learn from patient safety events.

"Developing a culture of safety starts at the top of the chain of command, and then works its way through the layers of management and employees to build trust which is an essential ingredient for improvement," McKee said. "In order for improvement to take root and spread, leaders need to be engaged and know the current state of the culture in their organization."

The patient safety chapter has three guiding principles:

  • Align existing Joint Commission standards with daily work in order to engage patients and staff throughout the healthcare system, at all times, to reduce harm

  • Assist healthcare organizations with advancing knowledge, skills and competence of staff and patients by recommending methods that will improve quality and safety processes

  • Encourage and recommend proactive methods and models of quality and patient safety that will increase accountability, trust and knowledge while reducing the impact of fear and blame

To learn more:
- read the announcement
- here's the chapter (.pdf)