Further proof that the Joint Commission is useless at enforcing safety at hospitals

John Fisher
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Stopping Medical Injustice
According to data revealed by Medicare, heart attack deaths in hospitals has dropped dramatically in the last seven years.  The author of the study, Yale cardiologist, Harlan Krumholz, stated that "We're in the midst of a remarkable period in American medical history: seeing dramatic improvements in care of heart attack patients."  Death rates at 4,569 hospitals that treat Medicare patients who suffer heart attacks fell by almost half a percentage point from a national average of 16.6 percent in 2009 to 16.2 percent.  What does this mean?  Unfortunately, very little.

A USA Today analysis of the data showed that more than two-thirds of the hospitals with the highest death rates won accreditation from one of a handful of groups that strive to improve hospital quality. The biggest, the Joint Commission, accredits 79% of Medicare-participating hospitals.  The Joint Commission accredits hospitals with the highest death rates.  Thus, the question must be asked, what is the purpose of the Joint Commission if the worst hospitals are accredited despite abysmal safety standards?

Federal agencies, such as the Joint Commission, do very little, if anything, to ensure patient safety at American hospitals.  The Joint Commission is little more than a federal agency that is understaffed and has no effective way to monitor patient safety issues at hospitals.
Maybe the sickest patients go to what they see as the best hospitals. This could skew the death rates higher for these hospitals even though they are the best but treat sicker people. Very sick patients may opt not to go to lesser hospitals which could make their death rates lower and on paper seem to have better survival.
by Mike July 9, 2010 at 08:58 PM
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