Yulia Geary, MBA, MT, QLS
Area Lab Director for Kindred Bay Area Tampa, Kindred Central Tampa, and Kindred St. Petersburg
Stephanie Aguinaldo, MS, MLS
Questions and Answers
Yulia: We like The Joint Commission’s standardized approach to each two year cycle and the Joint Commission-employed and trained laboratory surveyors. Because the surveyors visit 50 – 60 laboratories every year, they are able to share best practices from other facilities with us. Plus, the surveys are conducted with an eye toward education, which helps us pursue continued process improvements. And we especially appreciate that all Joint Commission laboratory surveyors are board certified medical technologists and pathologists.
Stephanie: The Joint Commission is an invaluable resource for best practices, quality indicators and standards for process improvement. We strive to be survey ready at all times, and The Joint Commission is very informative and readily responds to our inquiries.
Stephanie: An organization at which I previously worked was accredited by the College of American Pathologists (CAP). I was assigned by CAP to inspect other laboratories. This practice of assigning working laboratorians to perform surveys means that the surveys can be biased; standardization is difficult when various surveyors practice their skills in different ways, some of which are highly subjective. The Joint Commission survey, on the other hand, is conducted by independent, highly trained surveyors according to an established set of standards, which means it is unambiguous and unbiased.
Reyna: We like the emphasis on education and knowing the “why” behind the task.
Stephanie: The Joint Commission is more open to questions, making the survey more of a dialogue. The surveyors are very helpful and they are there to guide us through the survey process and let us know what we need to improve.
Yuliya: Yes, it’s a dialogue and Joint Commission surveyors are there to teach and show us the way. They tell us how they did things, how things are done in different laboratories, and they give us suggestions. Joint Commission wants to teach and show us ways to improve our processes. The Joint Commission survey is more suggestive than punitive. If they find deficiencies, they are here to help us fix it.
Stephanie: The CAP inspection is hectic as it is completed in a single day. The Joint Commission surveyors are on-site for a couple of days, which is less stressful.
Yuliya: The Joint Commission utilizes published standards and guidelines, which leaves no room for subjectivity or ambiguity. You can prepare and stay prepared every day because you have the guidelines in front of you. In fact, we use the guidelines to write our procedure manuals.
Reyna: The Joint Commission is extremely helpful. We can call a rep any time we have questions. For example, we can ask if we are interpreting a standard correctly. Someone is always available to assist before, during and after surveys to help us understand what is expected.
Yuliya: Yes. Our hospitals and laboratories are all accredited by The Joint Commission. The surveyors looked not only at the laboratory but also the whole range of patient care that laboratory testing affects, throughout the entire survey, including the areas of nursing, respiratory and phlebotomy to ensure quality care and best practices throughout the facility. Holding all hospital teams accountable ensures best practices and improves care.
Stephanie: Yes. A single accrediting body means that surveys are both detail-oriented and focused on the bigger picture. It encompasses all the areas the entire organization needs to review and evaluate to maintain high quality patient care.
Reyna: Every department leader is aware of the effort we all put in to achieve the highest-quality care, and that awareness and recognition fosters trust and respect among all our peers.
Yuliya: Having a single accreditor results in standardization within the entire organization, which improves the collaboration between hospital and laboratory staff, especially in point-of-care testing. Our staff feels extremely proud after passing a survey without deficiencies. We display the Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval® for the both the laboratory and hospital on our wall so our patients and their families can see this evidence of our achievement. They see that we’re held to the highest standards and that they should expect to receive excellent care.
Yuliya: Take advantage of the available website resources. Review the survey activity guide and accreditation materials, study the standards, and write your policies and procedures to meet those standards. Most importantly, be willing to learn. While you may be meeting many of the standards already, Joint Commission resources can help every laboratory learn new — and maybe better or more efficient— ways to meet those standards.
Reyna: I would recommend The Joint Commission based on my experience, especially for its surprisingly educational and patient-centric approach.
Stephanie: Do not procrastinate — switch already! Having experienced different accreditation organization processes, I can honestly say that The Joint Commission provides the best program.
“The Joint Commission survey, on the other hand, is conducted by independent, highly trained surveyors according to an established set of standards, which means it is unambiguous and unbiased.”
Note: LifePoint Health acquired Kindred Healthcare in December 2021. Afterward, LifePoint and Kindred launched ScionHealth. Legacy Kindred long-term acute care hospitals are now part of ScionHealth, but continue to operate under the Kindred hospital brand and the transition has had no impact on patient care.