The hospice and palliative medicine blog Pallimed reports (and celebrates) that the Joint Commission in Fall 2011 will begin recognizing hospitals with exceptional palliative care programs. (http://www.pallimed.org/2011/03/joint-commission-finally-accredits.html)
The Joint Commission accredits more than 17,000 health care organizations in the U.S., and many states require the accreditation in licensing and Medicare reimbursement.
“This is really important for many reasons,” writes Dr. Christian Sinclair, hospice and palliative care physician and blogger based in Kansas City. “Many hospitals may claim to have palliative care teams, but the members of the team, internal support and integration into hospital culture can vary widely as many who have worked with palliative care programs have seen.”
Indeed, though palliative care’s impact is increasing as public understanding grows and hospice fears subside, the practice remains ghettoized in many systems.
“I do like the (Joint Commission’s) emphasis on the whole hospital program and not just the team,” Sinclair writes. “This may set some higher standards than all teams will be able to accomplish, but then I think that makes all of us strive to do better. ... The suits in the C-Suite might find a new interest in what your program is doing and hopefully (fingers crossed) you might get the resources and staffing to achieve it!”
His optimism notwithstanding, Sinclair took not of this irony: the new cert program’s home is in Disease-Specific Programs. “Palliative care is about people,” Sinclair writes. “I guess we have to keep on educating.”