Safety

Tip of the Week: Joint Commission expects hospitals to address patient communication standards

Hospital Safety Insider, May 19, 2011

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The following is an excerpt from the May issue of Briefings on Hospital Safety

 

Emergency plans need to address issue

Emergency management (EM) directors may need to tweak their hospital's plans to take into account a new set of Joint Commission requirements.

The Joint Commission has turned its attention to making sure hospitals have laid the groundwork for effective communication with patients with limited or no English proficiency—both during everyday operations and during emergencies.

Although The Joint Commission hasn't changed its EM standards, it has added new standards in other chapters to address patient-centered communication and cultural competence. The Joint Commission added those standards to the 2011 Comprehensive ¬Accreditation Manual for Hospitals, and surveyors began ¬evaluating compliance with the new requirements beginning ¬January 1.

However, it's important to note that surveyor findings won't affect a hospital's accreditation decision during this implementation phase. The Joint Commission won't score the new standards until January 2012 at the earliest. That gives hospitals time to ensure that they provide for all patients with limited English proficiency.

"Your facility is very likely doing much of this data collection already-it's a matter of demonstrating good practices and compliance in most cases rather than starting from scratch," Elizabeth Di Giacomo-Geffers, RN, MPH, CSHA, a healthcare consultant in Trabuco Canyon, CA, and former Joint Commission surveyor, told BHS' sister newsletter Briefings on The Joint Commission.



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