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More Than Just a Chapter

Posted By Administration, Friday, November 07, 2014

By Ana Pujols McKee, MD

Every book has that chapter; the one that you remember the most. We know what chapter that will be in the Joint Commission’s Comprehensive Accreditation Manual for Hospitals.


When the manual is released January 1, 2015, you’ll find a new chapter – “Patient Safety Systems.” This is more than just a chapter. It’s a first-of-its-kind resource that brings together our existing standards to provide hospital leaders with a framework for building a comprehensive patient-centered system. 


We felt strongly that the information was important for leaders of all organizations to have. So, in an effort to serve the health care community and underscore our commitment to quality and patient safety, we have made the chapter permanently available on our website to customers and non-customers – the first time we have done so with a chapter.


It’s important to note there are no new standards in this chapter, and the standards that are highlighted will be covered in their respective chapters. The intent is to use these existing standards to inspire and support hospital leaders who are striving for the highest quality and patient care in their organizations.


You might be wondering if this chapter is solely for accredited organizations or something for which one would have to pay extra. No, and no.


The Patient Safety Systems chapter centers around three guiding principles:

  • Aligning existing standards with daily work in order to engage patients and staff throughout the health care system, at all times, on reducing harm.
  • Assisting health care organizations with advancing knowledge, skills, and competence of staff by recommending methods that will improve quality and safety processes.
  • Encouraging and recommending proactive methods and models of quality and patient safety that will increase accountability, trust, and knowledge while reducing the impact of fear and blame. 

By following these principles and highlighting all of the related standards in one chapter, our goal was to provide hospital leaders with a road map for implementing a fully integrated patient safety system. The chapter clearly outlines exactly how staff and leaders can work together to eliminate complacency, promote collective mindfulness, treat each other with respect and compassion, and learn from patient safety events.


While the chapter is in the manual for hospitals, other types of health care settings may benefit by applying the strategies discussed in the chapter to enhance patient safety. After all, all health care organizations should be continually focused on eliminating systems failures and human errors that may cause harm to patients, families, and staff.


You can wait until January to bookmark the chapter, but with something this important, we didn’t want to make you wait. The chapter is available for download right now.  We hope you’ll find this material useful in helping your organization build a foundation for an effective patient safety system.


Ana Pujols McKee, MD, is executive vice president and chief medical officer, The Joint Commission. Contact her via email.  

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