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The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) has announced its 2005 National Patient Safety Goals (NPSGs). For hospitals, the new requirements stress improving the timeliness of critical test-result reporting to caregivers, reducing drug errors, and preventing falls. Effective January 1, 2005, JCAHO requires hospitals to:


* accurately and completely collect information about patients' current medications and share that knowledge with other caregivers who may need it. The patient should participate in this process.


* assess and periodically reassess each patient's risk of falling and address identified risks


* measure, assess, and, if appropriate, improve the timeliness of reporting critical test results and values to the responsible licensed caregiver


* create a list of look-alike/sound-alike drugs used in the facility and take action to avoid mix-ups. The list should be reviewed at least once a year.



Besides hospital care, the NPSGs specify safety goals and requirements for nine other health care categories, including disease-specific programs, ambulatory care, home care, long-term care, and labs. A new goal in the disease-specific category is to reduce the risk of influenza and pneumococcal disease in older adults. Requirements for reaching that goal include developing a protocol for administering and documenting the flu and pneumococcus vaccines and identifying new cases of disease.


For complete NPSGs in each category, visit the JCAHO Web site at