Study: Joint Commission hospitals outperform unaccredited counterparts
A new study compares patient outcomes at hospitals accredited by The Joint Commission (TJC) with outcomes for the same treatments at hospitals without TJC accreditation—and finds the former handily outperforming the latter across the board.

In 2008, the final year of the study, 82 percent of Joint Commission-accredited hospitals crossed the 90 percent threshold on nationally standardized quality measures for acute myocardial infarction, heart failure and pneumonia. Only 48 percent of never-accredited hospitals topped 90 percent for the same grouping of measures that year.

The study, titled “Hospital Performance Trends on National Quality Measures and the Association with Joint Commission Accreditation,” appears in the October edition of the Journal of Hospital Medicine.

The study report, showed that Joint Commission hospitals both performed better at baseline and improved more over the course of the five years than facilities not accredited by the organization.

What accounts for the glaring disparity?

“I would argue that, in large part, [it] relates to the other things that accreditation brings to the table [for] hospitals,” said study co-author Jerod M. Loeb, PhD, in a video interview posted on the Joint Commission’s website. “Joint Commission accreditation has in association with it compliance with standards, compliance with the national patient-safety goals and a variety of other tools and modalities that are really important to help organizations change their culture to embed this in their daily activities so as to outperform non-accredited facilities.”

In a discussion section concluding the study, the authors noted that the non-accredited hospitals included in the study “are not considered to be ‘sub-standard hospitals.’ In fact, hospitals not accredited by the Joint Commission have also met the standards set by Medicare in the Conditions of Participation, and our study demonstrates that these hospitals achieved reasonably strong performance on publicly reported quality measures (86.8 percent adherence on the composite measure in 2008) and considerable improvement over the five years of public reporting (average improvement on composite measure from 2004 to 2008 of 11.8 percent). Moreover, there are many paths to improvement, and some non-accredited hospitals achieve stellar performance on quality measures, perhaps by embracing other methods to catalyze improvement.”

Four of the five study authors, including Loeb and Mark R. Chassin, MD, are employed by TJC. Chassin is president of the organization. Co-author Robert M. Wachter, MD, is associate chair of the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.