About JCAHO Accreditation for Addiction Treatment Centers

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Several studies have depicted significant improvements in clinical outcomes and quality of care following general accreditation programs. Considerable positive influence on clinical outcomes in various sub-specialties was also observed, including sleep treatments, chest pain, and trauma management.

Especially when it comes to the rapidly changing field of behavioral health, a coveted accreditation such as the Joint Commission certification can earn a facility the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval- a global recognition of excellence in health care quality.

The Joint Commission

Under the patronage of the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, and the American College of Surgeons, the Joint Commission was established in 1951. American Dental Association was later added as an independent accrediting body for hospitals across the nation.

The landscape of health care in America is continuously evolving. In the face of these rapid changes, the Joint Commission has gradually widened its scope to include accreditation of many non-hospital settings, especially the inclusion of behavioral health care, initiated in 1969.

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The Behavioral Health Care Accreditation Program was founded by the Joint Commission to fortify quality care in all types of independent behavioral health care facilities. As the behavioral health care environment continues to evolve rapidly, the health care providers are being exposed to new quality and accountability pressures.

Safety, high-quality care, evidence-based treatment and services to clients and continually improving performance are significant milestones of success.

Numerous payers, regulatory agencies, and managed care contractors need Joint Commission accreditation for reimbursement, certification and licensure, and as a major component of participation agreements.

The Joint Commission’s role in the behavioral health care environment and human services is well established and nationally renowned.

Organizations accredited by the Joint Commission benefit from the educational approach of the survey process – the objective is to provide the organization with the information needed to improve its performance.

What is JCAHO Accreditation?

JCAHO or the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations is the gold standard compared to which the quality of numerous healthcare organizations including behavioral health treatment centers are assessed.

Even though many behavioral health treatment centers do not hold this accreditation, the few that do have done so by undergoing an array of tests, lengthy reviews of policy and meeting requirements set by the organization.

The requirements for the Joint Commission’s behavioral health care accreditation focus on important elements regarding care and treatment provided to patients, and the management of behavioral health care organizations.

The standards-based performance areas for all behavioral health care organizations are:

  • Man walking in parkCare, Treatment, and Services (CTS)
  • Environment of Care (EC)
  • Emergency Management (EM)
  • Human Resources Management (HRM)
  • Infection Prevention and Control (IC)
  • Information Management (IM)
  • Leadership (LD)
  • Life Safety (LS) (in 24-hour settings)
  • Medication Management (MM)
  • National Patient Safety Goals (NPSG)
  • Performance Improvement (PI)
  • Record of Care, Treatment, and Services (RC)
  • Rights and Responsibilities of the Individual (RI)
  • Waived Testing (WT) (when applicable)

Despite the challenges accompanying the process of accreditation, the Joint Commission offers a wide array of resources for assistance.

These include a Behavioral Health Accreditation Team for the initial stages, such as helping providers discover a mentor organization to communicate with, a dedicated Account Executive for the organization, to assist through the application and pre-survey process; and a Standards Help Desk, for facilitating clarifications and answers to any questions about the accreditation requirements. [1]

As a Patient…

If you or a loved one is a patient and your treatment center is JCAHO accredited, then you should rest assured that you are in competent hands.

The standards and regulations set by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations ensure that the accredited facility does not just maintain the set standards for patient safety but strive to provide its patients with the best possible quality of care.

Joint Commission accreditation displays to patients and their families that the organization has a strong desire and commitment toward the provision of quality care, treatment, and services.

As the need for greater accountability for quality and cost grows, it is even more important to enforce quality distinction. Achieving accreditation officiates an organization’s efforts for the provision of best care, treatment, and services. [2]

JCAHO Accreditation Represents a National Consensus

The Joint Commission’s behavioral health care standards and accreditation stem from a thorough analysis of the rapidly evolving behavioral health care field.

Man considering a move for addiction treatment

The aim is to highlight state-of-the-art technology in behavioral health care and to provide comprehensive guidelines that every behavioral health care organization should strive to meet.

Consistent evidence has highlighted considerable improvements in the process of care provided by healthcare services’ post accreditation programs.

Several studies have shown general accreditation programs to apparently improve the structure and process of care, with growing evidence depicting consequent improvements in clinical outcomes. [3]

Despite all the benefits to the provider and the patient, one of the most significant hurdles to the implementation of accreditation programs remains to be the overall skepticism of healthcare providers and physicians in regards to the influence exerted by accreditation programs on the quality of care.

This signifies a need for education amongst healthcare professionals, about the potential benefits of accreditation and propagates the idea of utilizing accreditation as a tool for improvements in the quality of healthcare services.

Sana Ahmed photoAbout the Author:

A journalist and social media savvy content writer with wide research, print and on-air interview skills, Sana Ahmed has previously worked as staff writer for a renowned rehabilitation institute focusing on mental health and addiction recovery, a content writer for a marketing agency, an editor for a business magazine and been an on-air news broadcaster.

Sana graduated with a Bachelors in Economics and Management from London School of Economics and began a career of research and writing right after. The art of using words to educate, stir emotions, create change and provoke action is at the core of her career, as she strives to develop content and deliver news that matters.


[1] https://www.jointcommission.org/
[2] http://www.jointcommission.org/assets/1/18/hap_value_accreditation.pdf
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3156520/

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on September 3, 2017
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on September 3, 2017.
Published on AddictionHope.com

About Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC

Jacquelyn Ekern founded Addiction Hope in January, 2013, after experiencing years of inquiries for addiction help by visitors to our well regarded sister site, Eating Disorder Hope. Many of the eating disorder sufferers that contact Eating Disorder Hope also had a co-occurring issue of addiction to alcohol, drugs, and process addictions.