The Joint Commission is a non-profit, independent organization that certifies and accredits more than 19,000 health care organizations across the U.S. 

A sort of Better Business Bureau for the health care industry, the Joint Commission exists to encourage health providers to meet certain performance and safety standards. Essentially, receipt of a "seal of approval" from the Joint Commission indicates that a health organization has been evaluated by an on-site inspection team from the commission at least once every three years. Meanwhile, laboratories must undergo inspection once every two years.

First established in 1951, the Joint Commission is the nation's oldest accredidation and certification entity. The hope is that an emphasis on clinical practice guidelines will assist organizations to structure a consistent approach to care, minimizing the possibility of error, and thus providing a higher standard of patient care and a better work environment for employees.

The inspection process is all-encompassing, ranging from how employees utilize personal protective equipment - like that provided by - to the level of customer service that the health care entity offers patients.

Joint Commission accreditation can be earned by many types of health care organizations, including hospitals, doctor’s offices, nursing homes, office-based surgery centers, behavioral health treatment facilities, and providers of home care services.

In our next blog entry, we'll look at how the basic accredidation and certification programs offered by the Joint Commission are structured.