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June 2013 Archive for High Reliability Healthcare

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Observations and Lessons Learned on the Journey to High Reliability Health Care.

How The Joint Commission supports the work of physicians

Jun 19, 2013 | Comments (1) | 4696 Views

Ana Pujols McKee, M.D.By Ana Pujols McKee, M.D.
Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer
The Joint Commission

It seems odd that not more than 10 years ago surgeries were performed without verifying the procedure, or without the team affirming that the correct patient was on the surgical table for the correct procedure. Nor was the process of reviewing a comprehensive list of medications and reconciling them for appropriateness on admission or discharge a standard practice. These standardized processes are examples of the many innovations that The Joint Commission has introduced into the health care environment over the years; practices which are designed to help physicians keep patients safe. Despite interventions such as these, physicians tend not to view The Joint Commission as the national driver for patient safety that it is.

Most physicians don’t know the extensive role that physicians have played in the origins and continued leadership of The Joint Commission. Largely founded in 1951 by the American College of Surgeons, The Joint Commission is governed by commissioners representing the American Medical Association, the American College of Surgeons, the American College of Physicians, and other corporate member organizations. Half of the board of commissioners is composed of physicians, as is the board chair, Rebecca Patchin.

Despite the significant physician leadership that The Joint Commission has enjoyed, communication with physicians in our accredited organizations has been inadequate.  This lack of communication partially contributes to the misperceptions physicians have about The Joint Commission. Another contributor is the fact that almost every physician at some point in their career has been told "because The Joint Commission says so," in response to a complex question which deserved a better explanation. Responses such as this not only undermine the intelligence of the individual, but deny the individual an understanding of the rationale behind why a particular process is in place.

The role physicians play in improving clinical outcomes and reducing risk is immeasurable. In growing numbers, physicians are working in teams which understand and work towards reducing variation, standardizing processes, and building a safety culture. How The Joint Commission supports this work, and the tools it provides, is a story that needs to be told. I am keenly aware of the importance of sharing information and breaking down communication barriers and am joined by my colleagues in our commitment to make this happen.

In this blog, JC Physician, we hope to share our efforts in supporting organizations to reach a goal we share in common – keeping patients safe. We also plan to listen and learn about what is working well, and how we can improve. I will also be joined by our medical directors, who bring a wide range of expertise and will be sharing information on special topics of interest as well.

Let the dialogue begin!