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The Joint Commission Releases 2018 Patient Safety Goals


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By John Palmer

The Joint Commission has released a list of its 2018 Ambulatory Health Care National Patient Safety Goals. The Joint Commission evaluates and accredits nearly 15,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States and is the nation’s predominant standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. As such, the National Patient Safety Goals (NPSG), required to be implemented by all accredited organizations to improve the safety and quality of care, are updated annually.

The Joint Commission has four main goals for ambulatory healthcare with a number of specialized goals related to each. The following is a list of the four major categories of goals for 2018:

1. Identifying patients correctly

  • 01.01.01 — The Joint Commission recommends using two methods to identify a patient to ensure every patient receives correct medicine and treatment.
  • 01.03.01 — Ensure patients receive the correct blood in a transfusion.

2. Use medicines safely

  • 03.04.01 — Label unlabeled medicines and do this where medicines are stored.
  • 03.05.01 — Pay careful attention to patients who take blood thinning medicines.
  • 03.06.01 — Properly inform patients about their new medications, ensuring a patient knows what medicines to take when they get home. Encourage a patient to bring a list of up-to-date medicines every time they visit a physician.

3. Prevent infection

  • 07.01.01 — Use hand cleaning guidelines from the CDC or World Health Organization. Use goals to improve hand cleaning.
  • 07.05.01 — Follow guidelines aimed at preventing infection after surgery.

4. Prevent mistakes in surgery

  • 01.01.01 — Ensure each surgery is performed on the right patient, on the correct body part.
  • 01.02.01 — Mark where the surgery should be done.
  • 01.03.01 — Take a moment before surgery to ensure a mistake isn’t being made.

The NPSG program has been in place since 2002, when The Joint Commission established the first set of NPSGs effective January 1, 2003. The program was established to help accredited organizations address specific areas of concern in regard to patient safety.

Each year, a panel of patient safety experts advise The Joint Commission on the development and updating of NPSGs. This panel, called the Patient Safety Advisory Group, is composed of nurses, physicians, pharmacists, risk managers, clinical engineers and other professionals who have hands-on experience in addressing patient safety issues in a wide variety of health care settings, according to the Joint Commission website.

The advisory group works with Joint Commission staff to identify emerging patient safety issues, and advises The Joint Commission on how to address those issues in NPSGs, Sentinel Event Alerts, standards and survey processes, performance measures, educational materials, and Center for Transforming Healthcare projects.

Following a solicitation of input from practitioners, provider organizations, purchasers, consumer groups and other stakeholders, The Joint Commission determines the highest priority patient safety issues and how best to address them. The Joint Commission also determines whether a goal is applicable to a specific accreditation program and, if so, tailors the goal to be program-specific.