Patient mortality during unannounced accreditation surveys at US hospitals.
Approach to Improving Safety
Setting of Care
Prior research has demonstrated that hospital accreditation by The Joint Commission is associated with improved hospital performance on certain quality of care measures. However, it has not been established whether the survey periods themselves are associated with a change in patient outcomes. Researchers analyzed Medicare admissions at 1984 hospitals surveyed by The Joint Commission between 2008 and 2012 from 3 weeks prior to a survey up to 3 weeks afterward. They compared patient outcomes between survey periods and the surrounding weeks. For the primary outcome—30-day mortality—they found that patients admitted to the hospital during survey periods had significantly lower mortality than those admitted during nonsurvey weeks. The authors conclude that heightened vigilance during survey weeks and resultant changes in practice may explain this finding. A past PSNet interview with the president of The Joint Commission discussed his role in the organization.