Joint Commission to develop hospital standards for culturally aware care

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A new grant from the Commonwealth Fund will be used by the Joint Commission to revise and develop accreditation standards for culturally competent patient-centered care in hospitals across the United States.

The standards development initiative builds upon the commission’s ongoing Hospitals, Language, and Culture: A Snapshot of the Nation study that examines how hospitals in the United States respond to the diverse cultural and language needs of their patients. The study found that practices used to promote effective communication and cultural competence—critical elements of patient-centered and equitable care—vary widely from hospital to hospital, according to the commission.

The Joint Commission said the initiative will explore how diversity, culture, language and health literacy issues can be better incorporated into current commission standards or drafted into new requirements. The standards development process will include a review by interested parties in healthcare and the public.

The regulatory body also said it will collaborate with the National Health Law Program to develop an implementation guide to prepare commission surveyors and accredited hospitals for the release of these new standards, targeted to take effect in 2011.