A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that patients are less likely to die if they are treated on the same day as a surprise Joint Commission survey. During a survey week, patients had a 1.5% better chance of survival within 30 days of admissions, as compared those treated three weeks before or after the survey. At teaching hospitals, the presence of surveyors caused a 5.9% decrease in fatalities.
Researchers suspect that when they know they’re being watched, physicians work extra hard to provide quality care and follow standards.
“This study highlights that there is potential for us to learn what is going on during those weeks that is associated with better patient outcomes,” Vineet Arora, a researcher at University of Chicago Medicine who wasn’t involved in the study, told Reuters. “The question is whether it is due to a concerted effort on the part of the hospitals to follow safe practices or whether there is something else going on.”
The study was conducted by Harvard Medical School and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers. They analyzed Medicare admissions data from 1,984 surveyed hospitals, with more than 1,462,000 patients admitted in the three weeks before and after a survey and 245,000 during.