An investigative article published by the Wall Street Journal suggests there are serious flaws with the Joint Commission’s accreditation process. The Joint Commission is a private organization that is responsible for accrediting 80 percent of US hospitals. According to the article, the Joint Commission rarely revokes accreditation status, even when hospitals are not in compliance with safety standards set by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
The Wall Street Journal investigated hundreds of Joint Commission inspections from 2014 through 2016 for its article. According to its findings, 350 hospitals accredited by the Joint Commission were in violation of CMS standards during 2014. Some of the hospitals were still in violation during 2015 and 2016. The Wall Street Journal article found that even though these violations occurred, only 1 percent of the hospitals lost their accreditation.
CMS may inspect and pull federal funding from hospitals with high rates of infections, preventable medical errors and other safety hazards. Thirty of the hospitals investigated by the Wall Street Journal had CMS violations that were so severe, inspectors claimed they were likely to cause patient deaths. One hospital in the Wall Street Journal article was accused of causing the preventable deaths of two newborns and a pregnant woman. CMS threatened to pull this hospital’s funding for the deaths and other violations. The hospital kept its Joint Commission accreditation.
Multiple types of health care facilities can receive accreditation from the Joint Commission. Accreditation is supposed to reflect a commitment to patient safety. Doctor’s offices, hospitals, nursing homes and mental health centers can receive this distinction. According to the Joint Commission’s website, facilities may use accreditation as a marketing tactic to attract new business.
If the Wall Street Journal article is correct, then it is possible patients are being misled about the quality of their care. They could pick a hospital with the Joint Commission’s “Gold Seal of Approval” without realizing that their safety could be jeopardized.
Can I File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit for a Hospital Error?
An estimated 250,000 to 440,000 patients in the US are killed each year by medical mistakes. Countless others suffer life-altering injuries. In some cases, health care practitioners and hospitals can be held accountable for patient injuries and deaths.
If you or a loved one have been harmed by a medical mistake, then please reach out to our attorneys. The Atlantic City medical malpractice attorneys at Donald G. Targan & Associates have helped numerous victims of medical mistakes seek justice.