The Joint Commission Experience

Some people have asked me what I did last week and what this "Joint Commission" thing is. Especially if you see patients in the hospital on a daily basis, hearing the words "The Joint Commission" (TJC) should make you a little tense.

For lack of a better term, TJC is a regulatory agency who inspects hospitals every three years or so to review hospital policies and procedures to maximize patient safety. Unfortunately, what is covered in the news a lot are patients sometimes accidentally harmed when they come to the hospital. How can this happen you ask? Most times, it is the breakdown of processes that occur in the hospital - in addition to human error.

Anyway, TJC comes to hospital unannounced to conduct their survey. So, for the past year or so, the hospital has been preparing (by reviewing and updating policies and procedures) and wondering when TJC was going to stop by. It happened last week.

Being the Chief of Staff for the docs of my hospital, I'm one of the people that the TJC reviewers talk to - so needless to say, my stress level was pretty high last week. They were at the hospital for three and a half days. And, the hospital senior leadership staff was on pins and needles while talking to these people wondering what they were going to scrutinize next.

In addition, I felt bad for my patients, because I had to cancel my office hours for most of the week. I thought that I could just shift my office schedule, but, at times, meetings at the hospital were moved to a different time. So, I just had to cancel an entire morning or afternoon at times. I felt bad about that.

When Friday morning came, the stress started to let up a little bit as this was the last day of the survey. The preliminary feedback was good, but the final report will come back in a couple of weeks. Overall, I'm proud in how the hospital presented itself. We know that we do good work, but to receive initial positive feedback from TJC gave everyone a sigh of relief.

Unfortunately, instead of celebrating on Friday afternoon, I got ready for a weekend on call. But, hey, I'm not looking for sympathy here. As I tell everybody, it's tough being awesome. And, if this is the price for being awesome, then, I'll take it. HA!