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Facts about Joint Commission standards

March 25, 2016

Joint Commission standards are the basis of an objective evaluation process that can help health care organizations measure, assess and improve performance. The standards focus on important patient, individual, or resident care and organization functions that are essential to providing safe, high quality care. The Joint Commission’s state-of-the-art standards set expectations for organization performance that are reasonable, achievable and surveyable.

Standards development process
Joint Commission standards are developed with input from health care professionals, providers, subject matter experts, consumers, government agencies (including the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) and employers. They are informed by scientific literature and expert consensus and reviewed by the Board of Commissioners. New standards are added only if they relate to patient safety or quality of care, have a positive impact on health outcomes, meet or surpass law and regulation, and can be accurately and readily measured. The standards development process includes the following steps:

  • Emerging quality and safety issues suggesting the need for additional or modified requirements are identified through the scientific literature or discussions with The Joint Commission’s standing committees and advisory groups, accredited organizations, professional associations, consumer groups or others.
  • The Joint Commission prepares draft standards using input from technical advisory panels, focus groups, experts and other stakeholders.
  • Draft accreditation standards are reviewed by field-specific Professional and Technical Advisory Committees (PTACs), which are composed of outside experts. Both accreditation and certification standards are reviewed by the Standards & Survey Procedures (SSP) Committee, a committee of the Board of Commissioners.
  • The draft standards are distributed nationally for review and made available for comment on the Standards Field Review page of The Joint Commission website.
  • If indicated, the draft standards are revised and again reviewed by the appropriate experts and/or PTACs.
  • The draft standards are approved by the SSP Committee and provided to the Board for a comment period. Once that period of time has passed, the standards are final, unless the Board seeks further discussion.
  • The survey process is enhanced, as needed, to address the new standards requirements, and surveyors are educated about how to assess compliance with the new standards.
  • The approved standards are published for use by the field.
  • Once a standard is in effect, ongoing feedback is sought for the purpose of continuous improvement.

Standards manuals
Each accredited and certified organization receives one complimentary manual delivered via E-dition® (the electronic manual). The E-dition is accessible on The Joint Commission Connect™ extranet site.

Comment on a standard
The Joint Commission website includes an online form that allows customers and other interested parties to comment on current standards. The form allows for constant customer and stakeholder feedback on the standards. This feature is a product of The Joint Commission’s Robust Process Improvement® (RPI®) initiative to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of internal processes and to better meet customer needs and expectations of value.

For more information see About Our Standards.