I suspect most of you didn’t give this much thought, but ever since 2009, The Joint Commission has had to apply to CMS for their deeming authority to survey hospitals and other healthcare organizations on behalf of the federal agency for Medicare & Medicaid reimbursements. Joint Commission was approved by CMS in 2010 for 4 years, which would expire this year if they did not re-apply.
Re-apply they did and this time it appears CMS was waiting for them and gave them a huge list of things they needed to change about their standards and practices, or they would not receive CMS deeming approval. In all, CMS identified at least 52 specific items that Joint Commission needed to address before they would receive the deeming status that they needed to stay in business.
To their credit, The Joint Commission did the work necessary to comply with the CMS demands. The changes they made that would be most notably in the physical environment areas, include:
- Open PFIs will be cited on the final survey report;
- Agreeing that only CMS can approve equivalencies;
- Issuing two new Elements of Performance (EPs) which address the requirements for the organization to conduct risk assessments when determining the best equipment maintenance strategy, under EC.02.04.03, EP 24, and EC.02.05.05, EP 6;
- Issued new EC.02.02.01, EP 18 requiring radiation workers to be checked periodically;
- Issued new EC.02.02.01, EP 19 requiring procedures for trash storage and disposal;
- Changed EC.02.03.01, EP 10 to include the phrase “and report fire alarms”;
- Changed EC.02.05.03 to add the rooms “intensive care, and emergency rooms”.
You might be surprised to learn how hard The Joint Commission has been working to re-write their standards to comply with CMS’s demands. It is easy to think of the largest accreditor as an agency that perpetuates itself year after year, but that is not the case anymore. They have a boss (CMS) that they have to report to, and follow their directives. One indication of the seriousness of this issue, is usually The Joint Commission announces changes to the standards six months before they become effective. The fact that most of the changes mentioned above are effective July 1 (or July 2), 2014, and were only announced to the public during June, says they deviated from their normal practice to satisfy CMS.
It must have worked, since CMS published a statement in the Federal Register on Friday, June 27, 2014 announcing their approval for The Joint Commission as a deeming authority, for another six years. I seriously mean this when I say Congratulations! to The Joint Commission for this achievement. I know it must have been difficult.