Accreditation

Joint Commission: Test pregnant women for HIV and syphilis before childbirth

Briefings on Accreditation and Quality, April 1, 2018

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The accreditor says hospitals must test mothers for disease that could infect the newborn during birth

On July 1, 2018, The Joint Commission will implement three new elements of performance (EP) for maternity care. The announcement, which came in the latest R3 Report, is intended to reduce the risk of transmitting diseases like HIV and syphilis from mother to newborn. The standards apply to all Joint Commission–accredited programs.

The EPs say that when a pregnant woman arrives at a hospital to give birth, the hospital must check her medical record to see if she’s been tested (during her current pregnancy) for:

  1. HIV
  2. Hepatitis B
  3. Group B streptococcus (GBS)
  4. Syphilis

If she hasn’t, then the hospital needs to run all four tests and document the results. Since GBS testing can take 24–48 hours, providers can choose not to do it, but only if they give the patient prophylactic antibiotics instead. And if the mother tests positive for any of the diseases, then that information needs to be documented in the newborn’s records as well.

“The requirements will help improve maternal and neonatal health in Joint Commission–accredited hospitals and critical access hospitals across the country,” said Kathy Clark, MSN, RN, Joint Commission associate project director specialist in the accreditor’s Division of Health Care Quality Evaluation, in a press release.

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