Summary: A study in The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety found that Joint Commission-accredited long-term care hospitals have significantly lower infection rates for catheter-associated urinary tract infections and central line-associated bloodstream infections compared to non-accredited facilities.

Key Takeaways:

  • Accredited facilities showed better performance in reducing certain healthcare-associated infections, emphasizing the importance of rigorous infection prevention processes.
  • The accreditation process aids healthcare leaders in prioritizing investments and improving patient infection control outcomes.

A new study in the June 2024 issue of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety (JQPS) evaluated healthcare-associated infections in long-term care hospitals. The study evaluated the standardized infection ratio (SIR) of three measures: catheter-associated urinary tract infections, Clostridioides difficile, and central line-associated bloodstream infections. The SIR compares the actual number of healthcare-associated infections to the predicted number.

Risk in Long-Term Care Facilities

Patients at long-term care facilities are at risk for healthcare-associated infections – infections that occur while a patient receives care in a healthcare setting – due to prolonged exposure to bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens.

“The Joint Commission requires its accredited healthcare organizations to develop an infection control program which requires an organization to conduct a risk assessment and implement evidence-based interventions aimed at preventing healthcare-associated infections,” said Elizabeth Mort, MD, MPH, vice president and chief medical officer, The Joint Commission. “Today’s leaders are grappling with difficult decisions about what to invest in and the accreditation process can provide a roadmap for leaders to communicate important goals and prioritize investments, which in turn can lead to improvement in important patient infection control outcomes.”

Comparison of Accredited and Non-Accredited Facilities

The study compared the SIR between Joint Commission-accredited and non-Joint Commission-accredited facilities for each of the measures. Joint Commission accreditation is an objective evaluation process to help healthcare organizations measure, assess, and improve performance in patient safety and healthcare quality. Joint Commission accreditation requires organizations to implement rigorous infection prevention processes and procedures. The data set included 244 (73.3%) Joint Commission-accredited and 89 (26.7%) non-Joint Commission-accredited facilities.


Compared to non-Joint Commission-accredited facilities, Joint Commission-accredited facilities had a significantly better (lower) SIR for catheter-associated urinary tract infections and central line-associated bloodstream infections, but not the Clostridioides difficile measure. For each year of the study period (2017 to 2019 and July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021), a greater proportion of Joint Commission-accredited facilities performed significantly better than the national benchmark for all three measures.

“Positive associations were observed between Joint Commission accreditation and infection control measures,” said Beth A. Longo, DrPH, MSN, RN, study author and associate director, Department of Research, The Joint Commission. “Multiple factors may explain these findings such as the focus of Joint Commission standards on infection control and prevention and its approach to working with healthcare organizations during the survey process to identify and address infection-related risks.”