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Patient Outcomes No Better For Joint Commission–Accredited Hospitals Than Peers

By John Commins

Hospitals that earn certification by independent accreditors, such as The Joint Commission, have no better outcomes than hospitals reviewed by a state survey agency, according to a new report [1] in the BMJ.

“Furthermore, we found that accreditation by The Joint Commission [2], which is the most common form of hospital accreditation, was not associated with better patient outcomes than other lesser known, independent accrediting agencies,” the study concluded.

Researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health compared 4,400 hospitals across the United States, of which 3,337 were accredited, including 2,847 by The Joint Commission, and 1,063 hospitals that underwent state-based reviews between 2014 and 2017.

The study reviewed more than 4.2 million Medicare inpatient records for people ages 65 and older who were admitted for 15 common medical and six common surgical conditions, and respondents to the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Provider and Systems survey.

“Hospital accreditation by independent organizations is not associated with lower mortality, and is only slightly associated with reduced readmission rates for the 15 common medical conditions selected in this study,” the study said.

Among the findings:

While not the only hospital accrediting entity in the United States, the study authors note that private, not-for-profit The Joint Commission plays an outsized role, and controls more than 80% of the accreditation market as the accrediting agency of choice for nearly all major hospital systems.

“There was no evidence in this study to indicate that patients choosing a hospital accredited by The Joint Commission confer any healthcare benefits over choosing a hospital accredited by another independent accrediting organization,” the study concluded.

The Joint Commission could not immediately be reached Friday morning for comment.