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JCAHO to Finalize Medication Standards Next Spring

Kate Traynor

The public unveiling of newly renamed medication-management standards from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) has been delayed until at least next spring, but the standards are still on target for implementation in January 2004.

"With all the new standards coming out in 2004, we wanted to make sure it was done right, rather than quickly," said Darryl S. Rich, Pharm.D., FASHP, associate director for survey management and development for JCAHO.

Rich said that the standards, formerly dubbed "medication-use standards," have undergone substantial revision since their initial publication in draft form on JCAHO's Web site this past January. One change was the deletion of a proposal to allow hospitals with a computerized prescriber order-entry (CPOE) system to forgo prospective pharmacy review of medication orders.

"We had over 1,100 comments on the medication-management standards," Rich said. "We wanted to make sure we addressed every concern while still presenting a strong stance on medication safety."

The debut of the medication-management standards is scheduled to coincide with a sweeping revision of JCAHO's hospital accreditation standards. A 22-member task force began reviewing these standards last May with the goal of eliminating some standards and consolidating and clarifying those that remain, reducing hospitals' paperwork and documentation burden, and aligning standards with surveyors' assessment and scoring procedures.

According to JCAHO, the revamped hospital accreditation standards will focus on issues that directly influence the safety and quality of patient care. JCAHO also stated that it will pay special attention to standards related to the Medicare conditions of participation (CoPs) and will work with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services when the agency considers modifications to CoPs.

JCAHO expects to finalize revisions to the hospital accreditation standards next March or April and to implement them in January 2004.