The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) will begin providing quality and safety oversight for more than 90 clinical laboratories operated by the US Air Force. These laboratories provide services for thousands of enlisted personnel and their families based in the United States and abroad.

JCAHO was awarded the 10-year contract to provide laboratory accreditation and proficiency testing services for the Air Force as the result of a competitive bidding process with other accreditors, such as the College of American Pathologists. The unprecedented 10-year contract award, instead of the standard five-year contract, emphasized the need for laboratories to continuously improve quality and safety by using  JCAHO’s state-of-the-art standards and accreditation process. 

“The Joint Commission is pleased to enter into this partnership with the Air Force. Many clinical diagnoses and most patient clinical management decisions are based on the results of laboratory tests. Helping accredited laboratories to provide high quality and safe services is one of the Joint Commission’s highest priorities,” said Margaret Peck, MS, MT (ASCP), director, laboratory accreditation program, JCAHO.

To further strengthen its laboratory accreditation program, JCAHO has implemented a series of improvements that include:

– The conduct of unannounced surveys to ensure that laboratories are in continuous compliance with all accreditation standards.

– The expanded use of data to focus on-site assessment activities.

– The tracing of patients and specimens through the continuum of services they have received.

– The availability of a toll-free complaint hotline and the protection of the confidentiality of those who report concerns about an accredited organization.

– The completion of an annual Periodic Performance Review by accredited laboratories as a process for identifying opportunities for improvement and supporting continuous standards compliance.

– Continuing attention to reducing the risk of adverse events through accreditation standards, National Patient Safety Goals and other focused efforts.

For more information about the JCAHO laboratory accreditation program, visit www.jointcommission.org.