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Joint Commission Issues First Palliative Care Certifications

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, February 28, 2012

Five hospitals are the first in the nation to receive The Joint Commission's advanced certification for palliative care, a six-month-old program that the agency's David Eickemeyer says "has taken off faster than any other advanced certification program we've ever introduced, including stroke."

The Joint Commission does not have a "regular" palliative care certification. It chose to call this "advanced" certification to distinguish these programs from hospitals that simply say they have palliative care programs.

To earn the distinction, hospitals must be Joint Commission-accredited and must demonstrate these key capabilities:

  • Provide a full range of palliative care services to hospitalized patients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with team members available to answer phone calls nights and weekends, and be able to see patients in the hospital whenever necessary to meet patient and family needs.
  • Have already served at least 10 patients and had one active patient in palliative care when it received its on-site review from the Joint Commission.
  • Have the ability to direct clinical management of patients and coordinate care, such as write orders, direct or coordinate activities of the patient care team, and influence composition of the patient care team.
  • Use a standardized method of delivering clinical care based on clinical practice guidelines or evidence-based practice
  • Use performance measurements and have at least four months of measurement data at the time of the first on-site review.
  • Have a licensed interdisciplinary program team consisting of a licensed independent practitioner, registered nurse, chaplain and social worker.
  • Depending on the needs of the population served, they utilize expertise of individuals from child life services, clinical pharmacy, gerontology, nutrition, pediatrics, psychology and rehabilitative services.
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