The Joint Commission Announces 2005 National Patient Safety Goals for Hospitals


OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill. -- The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations today announced its 2005 National Patient Safety Goals that will apply specifically to hospitals. The goals and associated requirements, approved by the Joint Commissions Board of Commissioners at its July 9-10, 2004 meeting, include five of the 2004 goals and add two new expectations.  The latter focus on reconciling medications across the continuum of care and reducing the risk of patient falls.


The 2005 National Patient Safety Goals extend our expectations of accredited hospitals in providing safe, high quality care, says Dennis S. OLeary, MD, president of the Joint Commission.  We know that focusing on these specific areas of performance will reduce the frequency of unanticipated serious adverse events in healthcare.


The National Patient Safety Goals set forth succinct, evidence-based requirements that address critical aspects of care known to involve significant risk to patients.  The goals are reviewed and revised annually by the Sentinel Event Advisory Group.  This panel comprises physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and patient safety experts who work closely with Joint Commission staff on a continuing basis to determine priorities for, and develop, Goals and associated Requirements.  The goals are largely, but not exclusively, based on information from the Joint Commissions Sentinel Event Database.  As part of the development process, candidate goals and requirements are sent to the field for review and comment before they are finalized.


The 2005 Hospital National Patient Safety Goals are:

Goal: Improve the accuracy of patient identification.

--Use at least two patient identifiers (neither to be the patients physical location) whenever administering medications or blood products; taking blood samples and other specimens for clinical testing, or providing any other treatments or procedures.     


Goal: Improve the effectiveness of communication among caregivers.

--For verbal or telephone orders or for telephonic reporting of critical test results, verify the complete order or test result by having the person receiving the order or test result  read-back the complete order or test result.

-- Standardize a list of abbreviations, acronyms and symbols that are not to be used throughout the organization.

-- Measure, assess and, if appropriate, take action to improve the timeliness of reporting, and the timeliness of receipt by the responsible licensed caregiver, of critical test results and values.


Goal: Improve the safety of using medications.

-- Remove concentrated electrolytes (including, but not limited to, potassium chloride, potassium phosphate, sodium chloride >0.9 percent) from patient care areas.

-- Standardize and limit the number of drug concentrations available in the organization.

-- Identify and, at a minimum, annually review a list of look-alike/sound-alike drugs used in the organization and take action to prevent errors involving the interchange of these drugs.


Goal: Improve the safety of using infusion pumps.

-- Ensure free-flow protection on all general-use and PCA (patient controlled analgesia) intravenous infusion pumps used in the organization.


Goal: Reduce the risk of health care-associated infections

-- Comply with current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) hand hygiene guidelines.

-- Manage as sentinel events all identified cases of unanticipated death or major permanent loss of function associated with health-care associated infection.


Goal: Accurately and completely reconcile medications across the continuum of care.

--During 2005, for full implementation by January 2006, develop a process for obtaining and documenting a complete list of the patients current medications upon the patients entry to the organization and with the involvement of the patient.  This process includes a comparison of the medications the organization provides to those on the list.

-- A complete list of the patients medications is communicated to the next provider of service when it refers or transfers a patient to another setting, service, practitioner or level of care within or outside the organization.


Goal: Reduce the risk of patient harm resulting from falls.

-- Assess and periodically reassess each residents risk for falling, including the potential risk associated with the residents medication regimen and take action to address any identified risks.


More information about the goals can be found on the Joint Commission Web site at


Source:  Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare

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