Nurse Staffing an Issue in HHS Lawsuit
The CQ HealthBeat reports. According to the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, HHS allows the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations to use separate requirements for nursing staffing in accreditation of hospitals.
JCAHO, which accredits 82% of U.S. hospitals, does not require hospitals to have nurses immediately available to provide care or to adjust nurse staffing schedules to meet patient needs when nurses change shifts or miss work, as federal requirements mandate (CQ Health Beat, 6/15). Hospitals can participate in Medicare through accreditation by JCAHO or state agencies approved by HHS.
The lawsuit asks the court to require HHS to ensure JCAHO uses nurse staffing requirements "at least equivalent" to those of HHS (ANA release, 6/15). In addition, the lawsuit asks the court to require HHS to comply with federal nurse staffing requirements and to designate provisional approval for hospitals that use accreditation by JCAHO to participate in Medicare.
ANA President Barbara Blakeney said, "Our goal is not to indict individual CEOs of hospitals but instead to ensure that hospitals participating in Medicare do not endanger the health and well-being of patients."
HHS spokesperson Christina Pearson said, "We have always recognized the critical role the registered nurse plays in rendering or supervising patient care in hospitals," but she declined to make additional comments about the lawsuit (CQ HealthBeat, 6/15).