By demonstrating compliance with the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organization (JCAHO) national standards for health care quality and safety, Atlantic General Hospital and Health System has earned the Joint Commission's Gold Seal of Approval™
The Gold Seal of Approval, which indicates a hospital or healthcare organization’s accreditation, was awarded after a four-day on-site survey of all hospital departments and the health system facilities by JCAHO representatives in early July.
The visit marked JCAHO’s first unannounced re-accreditation survey of Atlantic General under a new set of procedures. Previously, the Commission notified a given hospital in advance of survey dates and provided a timeline of scheduled visits to various departments.
The new system was designed to ensure that Maryland’s hospitals remain focused on the 250 National Patient Safety Goals on a continuous basis rather than in the weeks or months leading up to a scheduled survey.
Also new to the survey was a tracer methodology, in which selected patients were tracked through all aspects of care in the hospital, from the admission or outpatient registration process, to medical or surgical treatment, distribution of medication, and then on to discharge.
Surveyors used a similar approach for systems, one example being the handling of a particular medication from the procurement process, to a physician’s order, to actual dispensing of the drug to a patient and any related safety assessments conducted by the hospital. The commission describes this approach as a feature-length film, rather than a snap shot, of the care provided by a healthcare organization.
A separate survey was conducted for the hospital’s laboratory toward the end of July, which also resulted in re-accreditation.
“Every department, associate and health care provider at Atlantic General Hospital is devoted to patient safety. It’s part of our organization’s mission,” says hospital President and CEO Michael Franklin. “The scope and results of this survey reflect that dedication to superior patient care.”
In addition to ensuring that a healthcare organization can receive reimbursement from Medicare, insurers, and other third party payers, the JCAHO accreditation process, which is voluntary for Maryland hospitals, provides Atlantic General Hospital and Health System with tools to constantly develop and implement better methods of practice.
"Above all, the national standards are intended to stimulate continuous, systematic and organization-wide improvement in an organization's performance and the outcomes of care," says Darlene Christiansen, executive director, Hospital Accreditation Program, Joint Commission. "The community should be proud that Atlantic General Hospital is focusing on the most challenging goal – to continuously raise quality and safety to higher levels."
Founded in 1951, the Joint Commission evaluates and accredits nearly 15,000 healthcare organizations and programs in the United States. It is the nation’s predominant standards-setting and accrediting body in healthcare. The Joint Commission's on-site survey of Atlantic General Hospital occurred in July. The next re-accreditation survey will occur within the next 18 to 39 months.
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