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The Joint Commission is Returning to Pre-Pandemic Survey Procedures

As of March 15, 2021, The Joint Commission will be reverting back to pre-pandemic survey procedures in light of reduced cases of COVID-19 across the U.S. according to a message that was sent by Mark Pelletier, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nurse Executive of The Joint Commission today.

This return to pre-pandemic survey procedures means that organizations will not be contacted by their Account Executive when it has been determined the risk of COVID-19 is safe for the accreditation survey team. The Joint Commission has indicated that it will utilize all resources to conduct onsite, unannounced accreditation surveys. Additionally, it was advised that organizations:

• Should monitor the Notification of Scheduled Events section of their Joint Commission Connect® page for notification on the first day of the unannounced survey.

• Primary Accreditation Contact and CEO will receive email notification of their scheduled event on the first day of the unannounced survey.

Mr. Pelletier’s message also indicated that the members of the Joint Commission survey team will follow current CDC guidelines while onsite. This includes:

• Practicing safe distancing

• Limiting numbers of individuals in group sessions, minimizing the number of staff escorts during tracer activities, surveyors and reviewers driving in separate vehicles to offsite locations or home visits.

• Requiring Joint Commission surveyors and reviewers to wear masks and personal protective equipment; Asking that health care organizations provide masks and/or other personal protective equipment to surveyors and reviewers.

• Optimizing the use of technology to support safe distancing. This would include use of audio/video conference platforms, projection/split screens for document and record reviews to separate individuals at a safe distance.

Additionally, the message indicated that The Joint Commission, in their capacity as an accrediting organization with deeming authority to conduct Medicare surveys, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will be prioritizing organizations with accreditation due dates that are past due. Until a new survey takes place, and a new accreditation decision has been made, an organization’s existing accreditation remains in effect.

If an onsite survey is not possible in your area, the organization’s Account Executive will contact them to determine whether the survey event can be performed offsite/virtually, with an onsite evaluation taking place for those who meet the follow up requirement. Organizations are encouraged to contact their Account Representative if there are extenuating circumstances that pose a significant challenge to your organization’s ability to participate in a survey.

The team at Courtemanche and Associates recommends that organizations maintain a state of constant survey readiness for risk reduction and positive patient outcomes. Organizations are highly encouraged to monitor compliance on previous findings received during the last survey. Repeat findings and trends can result in an adverse accreditation decision. Please contact us at (704) 573-4535 and allow us to support you in your preparations.

Christopher Pratt, MS, BSN, HACP

Author Christopher Pratt, MS, BSN, HACP

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