Accreditation commission sets patient safety goals

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has announced the 2007 National Patient Safety Goals and Related Requirements for each of its accreditation programs and its disease-specific care certification program.

The goals and requirements, approved by the organization’s Board of Commissioners, apply to the nearly 15,000 commission-accredited and certified health care organizations and programs.

Changes in this fifth annual issuance of safety goals include extension of a requirement that accredited organizations define and communicate the means for patients and their families to report concerns about safety, across all commission accreditation and certification programs.

The requirement — first applied to the home care, laboratory, assisted living and disease-specific care programs in 2006 — is the central expectation of the goal: “Encourage patients’ active involvement in their own care as a patient safety strategy.”

In addition, a new requirement specifies that behavioral health care organizations, as well as psychiatric hospitals and patients being treated for emotional or behavioral disorders in general acute-care hospitals, identify patients at risk for suicide. This requirement is part of the goal: “The organization identifies safety risks inherent in its patient populations.”

For home care organizations, a corresponding requirement stipulates that they are to identify risks associated with long-term oxygen therapy such as home fires. Finally, new language in one of the two requirements under the existing medication reconciliation goal stipulates that a complete list of medications be provided to the patient on discharge from care. This expectation is applicable to the ambulatory care, assisted living, behavioral health care, critical-access hospital, disease-specific care, home care, hospital, long term care and office-based surgery programs.

The development and annual updating of the safety goals and requirements is overseen by an expert panel that includes patient safety experts, nurses, physicians, pharmacists, risk managers and other professionals who have hands-on experience in addressing patient safety issues in a wide variety of health care settings.

The full text of the 2007 goals and requirements is posted on

Newborn screening expands to cover additional disorders

Beginning July 1, the Colorado newborn screening program will expand to include testing for 23 additional metabolic diseases, bringing the total number of screened conditions to 30 metabolic diseases, plus hearing.

Hospitals and health care providers throughout the state submit blood samples from newborns to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Laboratory Services Division, where screening tests are conducted.

According to Jim Beebe, program manager for the laboratory, Colorado’s newborn screening panel includes seven metabolic disorders and hearing.

As of July 1, the panel will include 23 additional conditions recommended by the federal government, the American College of Medical Genetics and the March of Dimes.

The health department’s lab will test for the additional conditions, along with one of the original seven, with a relatively new screening technology known as tandem mass spectrometry, Beebe said. The lab will use traditional methods for the six remaining original tests.

The Inherited Metabolic Diseases clinic at Children’s Hospital will provide follow-up consultation to the primary care physicians of babies who test positive for these diseases. Eleven of the conditions, considered “metabolic emergencies,” warrant immediate medical intervention, which can save the lives of affected babies.

“We’re pleased that this mandate will make the expanded testing a routine procedure,” Beebe said, “because the tests will give health care providers cruicial information they need to intervene in time to save the lives of infants.

Colorado’s expanded newborn screening panel will include tests for hearing, plus the following 30 metabolic diseases:

Congenital Hypothyroidism
Cystic Fibrosis
Biotinidase Deficiency
Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia
Medium, Very Long, & Long Chain Acyl-CoA dehydrogenasedeficiency
Trifunctional protein deficiency
Carnitine Acyl-carnitine translocase deficiency
Short Chain Acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency
Carnitine palmitoyltransferase II deficiency
Glutaric acidemia Type 2
Arginosuccinic acidemia
Maple Syrup urine disease
Isovaleric acidemia
Glutaric acidemia Type 1
3-hydroxy-3 methyl glutaric aciduria
Multiple Carboxylase deficiency
3-methylcrotonyl-CoA carboxylase deficiency
3-methylglutaconic aciduria
Methylmalonic acidemias
Propionic acidemia
beta-Ketothiolase deficiency

Amy Gillentine covers health care for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.