Joint Commission, ASHE Announce New Partnership

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OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill. -- The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) announces a new partnership that will improve the evaluation of life safety and environment of care issues throughout the accreditation cycle. 


The partnership is the latest in a long-standing relationship between the two organizations. The Joint Commission and ASHE have devoted more than a year to develop a framework for this partnership, with substantive agreements reached in early-April 2004.

These enhancements are designed to emphasize the importance of life safety and environment of care in providing safe, high-quality care for patients in accredited health care organizations.  Specifically, the collaboration focuses on:



-- Construction of an electronic assessment tool Joint Commission staff and ASHE staff have constructed a series of questions that were added to the application for accreditation that will be effective in 2005.  The questions focus on the size of the facility, date of original construction of the facility, any recent construction, and areas covered by automatic sprinkler systems.  Responses to the questions will be used to identify additional expertise and/or personnel that may be added to on-site evaluations of hospitals next year.


-- Training of Joint Commission staff Joint Commission and ASHE staff are developing a training course to significantly broaden Joint Commission surveyors knowledge of relevant life safety and environment of care issues.  Emphasis will be on recognizing the characteristics of an effective environment of care program and the identification of the key symptoms and causes of an ineffective program. 


-- Recruitment of healthcare facility engineers ASHE will support the recruitment efforts of the Joint Commission to strengthen the surveyor cadre with experienced health care facility engineers.  An ASHE advisory group will identify the knowledge and experience characteristics of an effective health care facility engineer and provide the Joint Commission with current listings of certified healthcare facility managers.


The Joint Commission and ASHE share a mutual goal of continuously improving the evaluation of life safety and environment of care issues, says Joseph Cappiello, vice president of Accreditation Field Operations for the Joint Commission.  This new collaboration will advance the methodology to address these issues and improve the safety and quality of care at thousands of Joint Commission-accredited organizations.


In addition to the partnership with ASHE, the Joint Commission is making significant enhancements to the evaluation of life safety and environment of care during on-site surveys, including the following:


-- All Joint Commission surveyors will receive additional training and education in the evaluation of life safety and environment of care standards during 2004 and 2005.


-- Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) surveyors will be invited to attend the Joint Commissions Annual Invitation Training Conference in January 2005.


Source: JCAHO