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Accreditation in European Health Care

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Background: In the past 15 years many countries, with widely differing health systems, have established national accreditation programs. A European survey report on accreditation, which includes data and updates from 2003 that were submitted between January and October 2004, is summarized.

Methods: A one-page questionnaire was circulated, with the summary of the 2002 survey, in February 2004 to known contacts in 44 of the larger states in the European Region of the World Health Organization. Combining the surveys of 2000, 2002, and 2004, responses were received from 36 of the 44 larger countries of the European Region from which information was sought.

Findings: The number of national accreditation programs for health services has continued to grow since the mid-1990s. By 2004, 26 programs were active or in development in 18 countries. The "English-speaking" model of North America remains the leading influence; however, newer programs are increasingly influenced by other models. Governmental programs are more likely to publish findings of accreditation assessments, and more recent programs are more likely to make results public.

Discussion: Accreditation programs are being set up more frequently in Europe than anywhere else; the trend is from voluntary, confidential, and self-financed organizational development toward benign but transparent regulation of stakeholders, governmental support, and public funding. Programs vary widely, yet patient and staff mobility, cross-border purchasing, freedom of trade, and protection of public safety and patients' rights imply the need for a common approach to definition, assessment, and improvement of standards in health care.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-05-01

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  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    David W. Baker, MD, MPH, FACP, executive vice president for the Division of Healthcare Quality Evaluation at The Joint Commission, is the inaugural editor-in-chief of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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