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Groups Call for Transparency in Hospital Accreditation Survey Findings

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, September 21, 2011

Nearly 60 patient advocacy groups including Consumers Union, several physicians, and one former Boston hospital CEO are pushing to make findings from the Joint Commission, and all hospital accreditation survey findings, open to the public.

"We believe it is in the public's interest to have all accreditation survey findings of the Joint Commission, and other bodies accessible to the public," the coalition said in a Sept. 2 letter to Sen. Tom Harkin, D-IA, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions.

Currently, such information cannot be accessed by the public, they wrote, because of a provision in the Social Security Act, which they want repealed.

However, in some states, hospitals can opt to have accreditation surveys performed by state agencies, and those reports are available to the public, such as in Harkin's Iowa, whose Division of Health Facilities conducts accreditation surveys. "The present situation creates a double standard," the coalition wrote.

The letter was signed by Kevin T. Kavanagh, MD, of Health Watch USA, of Somerset KY, Lisa McGiffert, director of Consumers Union Safe Patient Project, Carl Flatley of the Sepsis Alliance, Harvey Frey, MD, of the Health Administration Responsibility Project and Helen Haskell of Mothers Against Medical Error.

It was also sent to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius; Mark Chassin, MD, president of the Joint Commission; Thomas Hamilton, director of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Survey and Certification Group and Carolyn Clancy, director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

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