What Is JCAHO? - Definition, Accreditation Standards & Requirements

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  • 0:03 What Is JCAHO?
  • 1:04 Accreditation Standards
  • 4:03 Costs Involved with…
  • 4:30 Accreditation is Voluntary
  • 4:56 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Zona Taylor

Zona has taught Nursing and has a master's degree in Nursing Education and Maternal-Infant Nursing from University of Maryland Baltimore.

In this lesson you will learn the definition of JCAHO as well as the definitions of the terms accreditation and standards as they apply to healthcare organizations. We will look at examples of standards and requirements used in accreditation.

What Is JCAHO?

JCAHO stands for Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. This is a not-for-profit organization that has a history dating back to 1910, when it held the name American College of Surgeons. This group developed the idea of having systematic standardization in hospitals. The idea grew and evolved to include not only acute care hospitals, but also many other types of healthcare organizations, including doctors' offices, nursing facilities, office-based surgery centers, behavioral treatment facilities, and providers of home care services. In 1990, the organization's name was shortened to The Joint Commission (TJC).

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the simple definition of the word accreditation is ''to say that something (in this case, a hospital or other healthcare organization) is good enough to be given official approval.''In healthcare, accreditation is granted by organizations that compare what is actually going on at a hospital (or other healthcare organization) with standards of excellence.

Accreditation Standards

The easiest way to think of accreditation standards is to think of a yard stick. The yard stick is a standard against which a person would measure or compare something to see how it measures up (for instance, how long or tall it is). It's largely the same with TJC accreditation standards. These standards provide a way to examine healthcare organizations to see how they measure up in providing excellent care to their patients.

Like a ruler, accreditation acts as a measuring stick
image of ruler,measuring stick

The requirements that must be met for an organization to be accredited by TJC vary according to the type of healthcare organization. For example, the standards for an ambulatory surgery center will be quite different from the standards for an inpatient psychiatric facility. That only makes sense, right?

Let's say a patient is going to have surgery for a knee replacement. Certain actions should be taken to prevent infection in that new knee. Therefore, TJC sets specific standards for preventing infection in hip and knee replacement surgeries. The standards address which antibiotics should be used, the timing of the antibiotics, how many doses the patient should receive, and how long after surgery the last dose should be given (for instance, within 24 hours of the end of surgery). All of these details would be looked at and measured precisely to determine if a case meets the standard or not.

Another good example concerns the care provided when a patient arrives having a heart attack. The TJC accreditation standard of care for a heart attack includes all of the following for each patient experiencing a heart attack:

List of standards for heart attack patients
list of standards for heart attack patients

  • Aspirin upon arrival at the hospital
  • Aspirin prescribed at discharge
  • Two other specific classes of heart medicines prescribed at discharge
  • A certain class of cholesterol medicine prescribed at discharge
  • Clot buster therapy if the patient arrives within 30 minutes of the first symptoms
  • Rush patient to the cardiac cath lab for intervention within 90 minutes of arrival in the emergency department

The standard for heart attack care we just described is an example of how complicated just one standard can be. In order to score well on this particular standard, everything on the list must be addressed for every heart attack patient. There are standards for different medical situations. These include standards for heart failure, pneumonia, surgical care, child asthma, blood clot treatment, stroke care, and others.

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