TJC to begin unannounced survey visits again

By A.J. Plunkett

The Joint Commission (TJC) is returning to its more traditional survey activities – onsite and unannounced, as of March 15.

In a statement in its Joint Commission Online weekly publication, TJC noted that COVID-19 caseloads have been decreasing. “The Joint Commission will return to its usual procedures prior to the pandemic. Organizations will no longer be receiving a phone call or email from their account executive when it has been determined the area is low risk for The Joint Commission’s accreditation survey team to visit. All available resources will be utilized to conduct onsite, unannounced accreditation surveys.”

TJC says it is also working with CMS to prioritize hospitals and other healthcare organizations that have accreditation dates past due. “An organization’s existing accreditation remains in effect until a new survey takes place and a new accreditation decision has been rendered,” according to the statement.

In addition, “organizations should continue to monitor the Notification of Scheduled Events section of their Joint Commission Connect® extranet page for notification on the first day of the unannounced survey. Additionally, the organization’s primary accreditation contact and chief executive officer will continue to receive email notification of the scheduled event on the first day of the unannounced survey.”

Even as survey activities return to normal, TJC offers the reminder that its surveyors “are considered essential workers and are following the most up-to-date guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

“While the survey team will be onsite, they will continue to:

  • Practicing safe physical distancing by limiting the number of individuals in group sessions, minimizing the number of staff who accompany a surveyor or reviewer during tracer activities, and driving in separate vehicles (or, for surveyors and reviewers, their own vehicles) to offsite locations or home visits.
  • Wearing personal protective equipment by requiring Joint Commission surveyors and reviewers to wear masks and asking that health care organizations provide masks and/or other personal protective equipment to surveyors and reviewers.
  • Utilizing enhanced technology to support physical distancing, such as: using screen sharing or projection to review electronic medical records and interview care recipients or staff; and incorporating audio/video conference calls to safely expand the number of meeting attendees.”
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Accreditation, Joint Commission