July 15th, 2011
Ask any nurse what her number-one job is, and the answer is simple: patient safety. With that in mind, the Joint Commission just released its National Patient Safety Goals (NPSGs) for 2011 and an additional goal for 2012. The NPSGs exist to help accredited healthcare organizations address specific areas of concern in regards to patient safety.
The goals highlight problem areas in health care and promote specific improvements for that area. Using evidence collected form health care institutions and expert-recommended solutions, The Joint Commission demands that facilities put plans into play that help providers deliver safe, high quality health care, integrating system-wide solutions wherever possible.
For 2011, The Joint Commission is not implementing any new NPSGs; however, four elements of performance (EPs) were revised to remove very specific requirements and allow for the use of new, accepted clinical practices. When the EPs in existing NPSGs were developed, they reflected the best evidence-based knowledge at the time, but medical research is continuously discovering new treatments or changes to existing practices. NPSGs are specific to different types of facilities, for example, while general rules apply to everyone, and there might be some that apply only to a hospital or ambulatory surgery center that do not apply to home health care agencies or mental health facilities. Listed below are the 2011 guidelines:
The Joint Commission has approved one new NPSG for 2012 that focuses on catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI) for the hospital and critical access hospital accreditation programs. CAUTI is the most frequent type of health care-associated infection and represents as much as 80% of health care associated infections in hospitals.
The Patient Safety Advisory Group is a panel of experts who counsel The Joint Commission. This panel includes nurses, physicians, pharmacists, risk managers, clinical engineers and other professionals who have hands-on experience in addressing patient safety issues in a wide variety of health care settings.
After receiving input from the Advisory Group and collecting information from practitioners, provider organizations, purchasers, consumer groups, and other stakeholders the Joint Commission makes a list of what are the highest priority safety issues for the following year. These do not necessarily change every year, sometimes the goals are updated or simply continued from previous years.
In 2002, The Joint Commission established its National Patient Safety Goals program; the first set of NPSGs was effective January 1, 2003. The company updates its accreditation standards and expands patient safety goals on a yearly basis, and posts them on its website for all interested persons to review, making this information and process transparent to all stakeholders ranging from institutions, to practitioners, to patients and their advocates.