The Joint Commission vs Joint Commission International: Part II–Comparing the Survey Practices for Medical Equipment Management and Maintenance

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Accreditation of healthcare organizations is used by government agencies and insurance companies in some countries to determine acceptable quality level and thus ability to receive reimbursements. Even when not required by law, achieving accreditation helps a healthcare organization to attract more patients and earn higher reimbursement rates. Among the healthcare accreditation organizations, The Joint Commission (TJC) and Joint Commission International (JCI) are known for their longevity, wide scope, and prestige, with the former being the dominant player in the United States and the latter highly recognized elsewhere. A previous article examined the differences and similarities of their standards, whereas this article compares their survey practices. Through a worldwide survey of approximately 1% of their accredited hospitals, the questions most frequently asked by their surveyors and their focus topics were uncovered and compared. Despite the inevitable similarities imposed by the common goal of ensuring patient safety and the adoption of the same tracer methodology, some differences were apparent. Joint Commission International surveyors tend to focus more on equipment planning and selection and scheduled maintenance, whereas TJC surveyors tend to focus more on maintenance strategy. Both asked for scheduled maintenance records, but JCI surveyors concentrated more on safety, national laws/regulations, inventory inclusion, staff training/qualifications, and incident reporting. Although some of these differences can be traced to local laws and regulations, most are apparently derived from previous survey lessons learned. Surprisingly, a large portion of the JCI-accredited hospitals are not strictly following JCI standards and have actually adopted some of the more flexible standards allowed by TJC. It is hoped that this comparison can help clinical engineering professionals worldwide to prepare themselves better for future surveys.

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