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Joint Commission Seeks Input on Assessing and Treating Tobacco, Alcohol

Sarah Kearns, for HealthLeaders Media, September 14, 2009

The Joint Commission is seeking public comment on candidate measures for assessing and treating tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use and dependence for all hospitalized patients, according to the Joint Commission's official Web site.

The results will be used to help determine which of the measures will go forward to pilot testing. The Partnership for Prevention and The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and their Center for Substance Abuse Treatment in the Department of Health and Human Services have supplied The Joint Commission with funds to develop these measures.

"These are very important and timely measures being proposed by the Joint Commission as they will help hospital organizations gather data that will better inform leadership in targeting interventions for tobacco, alcohol, and drug dependence," says Sharon Chaput RN, C, CSHA, director of Standards and Quality Management at the Brattleboro Retreat.

Chaput also states that according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco use alone is the single greatest cause of disease in the United States and accounts for more than 435,000 deaths each year. The CDC also reports that tobacco use accounts for an estimated $96 billion per year in direct medical expenses and $97 billion in lost productivity.

"It is critical at this time when our healthcare system is being looked at by Congress and our President for overhaul that we have the data to inform our decision making," says Chaput.

These candidate measures, known as the Tobacco Alcohol & Drug Dependence (TADD), currently address eight specific aspects of care:

  • TADD-1: Tobacco Use Assessment
  • TADD-2: Tobacco Use Treatment
  • TADD-3: Tobacco Use Treatment at Discharge
  • TADD-4: Tobacco Use Follow-up
  • TADD-5: Alcohol and Other Drug Use Screening
  • TADD-6: Alcohol and Other Drug Use and Dependence—Brief Intervention or Treatment
  • TADD-7: Alcohol and Other Drug Use and Dependence—Treatment Management at Discharge
  • TADD-8: Alcohol and Other Drug Use and Dependence—Follow-Up for Unhealthy Use and/or Discharge.

The TADD measures will be standardized as quantitative tools to help determine an organization's performance with a specified process and will help assist the healthcare organization in areas for improvement with tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs.


Sarah Kearns is an editor for HCPro in the Quality and Patient Safety Group. Contact Sarah at skearns@hcpro.com.

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