to main content Accreditation Process Overview Fact Sheet | The Joint Commission

Accreditation Process Overview Fact Sheet

The accreditation process seeks to help identify known and/or unknown risks to quality and patient safety by conducting a meaningful assessment. It also aims to inspire organizations to improve their care, treatment and services, and to provide new information and best practices.


Joint Commission standards are the basis of this objective evaluation process that can help health care organizations assess, measure and improve performance. The standards focus on important processes and organization functions that are essential to providing safe, high-quality care, including the environment where patient care is delivered. The Joint Commission’s standards set expectations for organization performance that are reasonable, achievable and surveyable. The standards are published electronically in the E-dition® and in hard copy manuals by Joint Commission Resources (JCR), the official publisher and educator of The Joint Commission. 

Survey Process 

Joint Commission surveys are unannounced, with some exceptions, such as non-deemed initial surveys. A survey is designed to be individualized to each organization, to be consistent, and to support the organization’s efforts to improve performance. During the survey, Joint Commission surveyors evaluate an organization’s performance of functions and processes aimed at continuously improving patient outcomes. They do this by: 

  • Tracing the care delivered to patients, residents or individuals served.
  • Reviewing information and documentation provided by the organization.
  • Observing and interviewing staff, medical staff and, if appropriate, patients and/or residents.

Accreditation Decisions 

The scoring and decision process is based on an evaluation of compliance with Joint Commission standards and other requirements. Compliance with the standards is scored according to specific performance expectations called elements of performance. While a preliminary Summary of Survey Findings Report is provided at the conclusion of the survey, the final accreditation decision is made at a later date. The accreditation decisions that can be awarded are: Limited Temporary Accreditation, Accreditation, Accreditation with Follow-up Survey, Preliminary Denial of Accreditation, and Denial of Accreditation.

Expectations of Accreditation 

An organization’s accreditation cycle is continuous, as long as the organization has a full, unannounced survey within 36 months of its last survey, and continues to meet all accreditation-related requirements. 

Read More