May 2003

Catholic Health Initiatives Presents at Summit to Prevent Wrong-Site Surgery

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Catholic Health Initiatives recently participated in the development of a future Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) national standard for prevention of wrong-site surgery.

Debbi Honey, RN, vice president of clinical operations for Catholic Health Initiatives, made a presentation at JCAHO’s Wrong Site Surgery Summit meeting in Chicago May 9. "I spoke about Catholic Health Initiatives’ own initiative and how it focuses on building partnerships between surgeons and those who operationalize standards and processes for the prevention of wrong-site surgery," she said. "Such standards must be proactive rather than reactive; must engage everyone involved in surgical patient care; and must be practical to implement."

As a result of the summit, JCAHO has already revised the scoring for one of its national patient safety goals, which requires the elimination of wrong-site surgery. Specifically, health care organizations will still be required to mark surgical sites in cases that involve left/right distinction, multiple structures or multiple levels. However, effective immediately, health care organizations no longer have to mark sites for many other types of surgical procedures, including sternotomies for open-heart surgery and procedures for which the site of insertion is not predetermined, such as cardiac catheterizations. In addition, JCAHO is exempting dental procedures from the traditional site-marking requirement.

The new JCAHO standard will be drafted soon and is expected to go into effect in January 2004.

"It is so appropriate for Catholic Health Initiatives to play a role in creating this new standard," said Honey. "As I told the attendees at the JCAHO summit, our size and diversity makes us one of the best possible learning laboratories for all kinds of health care standards development."