JCAHO adds patient safety goals

Thursday, September 30, 2004

OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill. - Some HMEs may need to add two more elements to their accreditation to-do list. The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations recently tacked on new National Patient Safety Goals for home care organizations. The requirements, which target medication management and patient falls, will take effect in 2005.

Clinical respiratory providers seeking accreditation through JCAHO will be impacted by the medication management addition, which says organizations must develop a process for obtaining and documenting a complete list of a patient’s medications and a process for communicating that list to the patient’s next health care provider.

“It is now required that HME companies’ policies address situations where oxygen or nebulizer medication orders appear to be out of the ordinary by asking referral sources for verification on read back of orders,” said Bob Thornburg, a consultant with Home Medical Equipment Industry Consultation.

Full implementation of this goal is not required until January 2006.

A second change addresses the risk of patient falls. The goal requires suppliers to assess and periodically reassess each patient’s risk for falling and take action to address those risks.

“Home medical equipment organizations have always been aware of fall prevention in that a basic residential environmental assessment includes looking for things like throw rugs without non-slip backing and grab rails for those at risk,” said Thornburg.

But, the additional requirement takes the precautions one step further, he said.

For HME suppliers this includes determining the patient’s ability to safely use their equipment after instruction and demonstration by the staff. They must also evaluate the user’s strength, balance and focus when using the equipment, and there must be a process for advising the physician or referral source of the perceived problems with the equipment ordered.

In its update, JCAHO also dropped one patient safety goal relating to system alarms. The other five existing goals remained unchanged.