JCAHO’s Modification to Goal 2b

Accreditation Monthly, January 15, 2005

Dear Colleague,

This month I would like to discuss the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations' (JCAHO) November 23 National Summit on Medical Abbreviations.

The summit, hosted by the JCAHO, included representation from 50 professional societies and/or associations as well as representation from the American College of Physicians, American College of Surgeons, American Dental Association, American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Institute for Safe Medication Practices, and United States Pharmacopoeia.

The goal of the summit was to discuss medical errors related to the utilization of dangerous abbreviations, acronyms, and symbols. One of the JCAHO's National Patient Safety Goals is the implementation of a minimum list of unapproved abbreviations.

In 2004, the use of unapproved abbreviations was the most frequently cited JCAHO requirement. The JCAHO's objective of the summit was to discuss the values of unapproved abbreviations and to understand the challenges that hospitals and medical staffs face as well as possible solutions to the challenges associated with unapproved abbreviations.

Final results of the summit are not available at this time, however once available, the JCAHO will share them with summit participants for confirmation and post them on their Web site and solicit public comment.

So, what does this mean to you for 2005? Effective January 1, the JCAHO has made the following modifications to Goal 2b-"Standardize the abbreviations, acronyms and symbols used throughout the organization, including a list of abbreviations, acronyms and symbols not to use:"

  • Applies only to all orders and all medication-related documents
    • This reduces the 2004 expectation which included progress notes as well as other medical record documentation.


  • Applies to preprinted forms
    • This extends the requirement beyond handwritten documentation, but is a reduced requirement from that planned for 2005 which included all electronic documentation.


  • The minimum expected level of compliance for handwritten documentation remains at 90 percent.

I hope you continue to find this information of value in your ongoing preparation efforts. If The Greeley Company can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to give us a call at 888/749-3054.


Steven Bryant
Practice Director
Accreditation & Regulatory Compliance
The Greeley Company

For more information on our accreditation and regulatory compliance consulting services, click here or contact Denise Paquette, Practice Manager, at or call 888/749-3054, ext. 3436.

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