What You May Not Know About Hospital Accreditation

When you see the doctor, you rarely imagine that you’ll leave sicker than you were before. But at too many hospitals, patients leave with life-threatening infections, severe injuries from medical errors, and incorrectly prescribed medications. Although some patients are able to seek justice through a medical malpractice lawsuit, most people will never know that the hospital or its doctors committed malpractice.

This is partly because of key flaws in the current hospital accreditation and oversight process. Learning about hospital accreditation and what it really means can allow you to make more informed healthcare decisions for you and your family, and avoid the risk of serious medical errors.


Despite popular perceptions of the healthcare industry, medical practitioners are not infallible. While many doctors observe rigorous standards of patient hygiene and safety, others can be more careless. In fact, hospital errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S, with 10% of all U.S. deaths stemming from a medical error.

Because of this, many hospitals, clinics, and surgery centers actively seek out accreditation from specialized accreditors, both for public relations reasons as well as financial ones. By submitting to annual surveys and inspections, a hospital may be deemed eligible for Medicare funds and other government payments. It also means they can prominently display the accreditation and claim that they have high safety standards.


One of the most widely-used accreditor organizations in the medical industry, the Joint Commission is a non-profit watchdog that provides accreditation to various healthcare clinics and hospitals. The “gold seal” awarded by the Joint Commission has become synonymous with safety, with more than 80% of United States hospitals receiving this distinction.

However, last year the Wall Street Journal uncovered that the Joint Commission has fallen severely short, revoking accreditations for fewer than 1% of hospitals that failed to meet Medicare standards. According to their research, hundreds of hospitals had ongoing issues with patient safety, all still bearing the gold seal of the Joint Commission.

This instance is not an isolated one, and more accreditor issues have come to light in recent months. Kaiser Health News reported in September 2018 that in California, patient deaths reached a 14-year high after private accreditors were given a lead role in overseeing hospitals and surgery centers. Many of these accreditors failed to revoke status even after several instances of unqualified doctors operating on patients.


At Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP, we can assist patients who have been seriously injured by a physician’s error or willful negligence. When you work with our team, you’ll benefit from more than 100 years of combined experience in this area of the law, along with an extensive network of expert witnesses and medical experts who can review your claims.

Contact us today at 800-568-5330 for more information.

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