Since the 1950s The Joint Commission (TJC) has been the most influential hospital accreditation body in the United States. More than 20,500 health care organizations and programs in the United States maintain Joint Commission accreditation by adhering to standards centering on safe and effective care.
Joint Commission standards are developed with input from health care professionals, providers, subject matter experts, consumers, government agencies (including the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) and employers. They are informed by scientific literature and expert consensus and approved by the Board of Commissioners. New standards are added only if they relate to patient safety or quality of care, have a positive impact on health outcomes, meet or surpass law and regulation, and can be accurately and readily measured (The Joint Commission, 2014).
Fully implemented in July 2012, the patient-centered communication standards, developed to advance the issues of effective communication, cultural competence, and patient/family-centered care, address issues such as qualifications for interpreters and translators, identifying and attending to patient communication needs, collecting patient race and ethnicity data, patient access to a support individual, and non-discrimination in care (The Joint Commission, 2014).
The Connection between CLAS and TJC Standards
Two years before the release of the new patient-centered communication standards, TJC had released the Roadmap for Hospitals, a publication designed to help hospitals address unique patient needs and comply with related TJC requirements (The Joint Commission, 2010). The Roadmap heavily references, and lists as resources, The National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care released in 2000 (The National CLAS Standards), as well as several other guides and initiatives of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health.
In 2013, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published an enhanced set of CLAS standards:
The enhanced National CLAS Standards are intended to advance health equity, improve quality, and help eliminate health care disparities by providing a blueprint for individuals and health and health care organizations to implement culturally and linguistically appropriate services” (U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services Office of Minority Health, 2013).
The Joint Commission responded by affirming their commitment to these targeted standards in July 2014 by releasing A Crosswalk of the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) in Health and Health Care to The Joint Commission Hospital Accreditation Standards. The purpose? TJC standards related to culturally and linguistically appropriate services are divided across several chapters: Human Resources, Information Management, Leadership, Provision of Care, Treatment, and Services, Record of Care, Treatment, and Services, Rights and Responsibilities of the Individual, and Transplant Safety. Some standards are more general in scope while others provide specific recommendations that are not stated explicitly in the CLAS standards. The Crosswalk makes for a simple cross-reference for patient safety and compliance personnel, as well as hospital decision-makers:
Each of the 15 National CLAS Standards is presented alongside the applicable Joint Commission standards. There is not a one-to-one correlation between the National CLAS Standards and Joint Commission standards, as several of the Joint Commission’s requirements overlap with the overall intent and objective of each National CLAS Standard (The Joint Commission, 2014).
Patients and hospital administrators alike can access this important information here:
The National CLAS Standards (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
The Crosswalk (The Joint Commission)
The Joint Commission. (2010, May 1). Advancing Effective Communication, Cultural Competence, and Patient- and Family-Centered Care: A Roadmap for Hospitals. Retrieved February 28, 2015, from JointCommission.org: http://www.jointcommission.org/assets/1/6/ARoadmapforHospitalsfinalversion727.pdf
The Joint Commission. (2014, November 24). Advancing Effective Communication, Cultural Competence, and Patient-and-Family-Centered Care. Retrieved February 28, 2015, from The Joint Commission: http://www.jointcommission.org/Advancing_Effective_Communication/
The Joint Commission. (2014, July 1). Crosswalk of the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) in Health and Health Care to The Joint Commission Hospital Accreditation Standards. Retrieved from JointCommission.org: http://www.jointcommission.org/assets/1/6/Crosswalk-_CLAS_-20140718.pdf
The Joint Commission. (2014, March 25). Facts about Joint Commission standards. Retrieved February 28, 2015, from JointCommission.org: http://www.jointcommission.org/facts_about_joint_commission_accreditation_standards/
U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services Office of Minority Health. (2013, April 24). National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) in Health and Health Care: The Case for the Enhanced National CLAS Standards. Retrieved February 17, 2015, from Think Cultural Health: https://www.thinkculturalhealth.hhs.gov/Content/clas.asp