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Accreditation vs Licensure

In the United States we use accreditation and licensure to verify that predetermined and standardized criteria are met. For any business or organization to run successful these processes must be encountered. Accreditation is a voluntary process by which a nongovernmental being grants a time-limited recognition or credentials to an organization after verifying that predetermined and standardized criteria are met. Accreditation is voluntary however, sometimes it becomes so important that it can be considered mandatory. The emphasis of an accreditation’s assessment is on safe and effective developments and outcomes.

Accreditation typically has constant requirements such as applications or site visits that need to be met to maintain the accreditation. An example of such applications and sites are: Joint Commission, Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA), National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), Planetree, etc.

Licensure is a method by which a governmental agency grants time-limited permission to an individual to participate in an profession after authenticating that he or she has met determined and standardized criteria usually education, experience, and examination. The goal of licensure is to ensure that the licensees have the minimal degree of competency necessary to ensure that public health, safety, and well-being are protected. To become licensed, one usually must meet eligibility requirements and pass an assessment that covers a broad range of knowledge and skills, usually at the entrance level. There are usually constant requirements that need to be encountered to maintain the license such as CEUs, retests, physical exams, etc. Naturally, they are approved at the state level if the individual works in several dominions, then they must be licensed in each dominion. Licensing requirements vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Professional associations do not grant licensure but can play a role in licensure activities, such as promoting for the license and collaborating with agencies responsible for the development and administration of licensing.

An example of this credential would be a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse. The difference between accreditation and licensure is that accreditation is both a process and a credential and the accreditation process is voluntary and only organizations, agencies, or programs can be accredited. While licensure exists involuntary primarily for public safety and the well-being of consumers such as individuals, facilities, programs, organizations or agencies. Accreditation in the United States was developed to protect health and safety and to serve the public interest. Communities were growing quickly, and quality standards needed to be set for organizations meeting public needs, such as health care and education. In the 1800s, higher education was gaining ground in the United States, but there were few standards in place to regulate the educational quality of an institution and differentiate one school from the next. The first hospitals in the United States were accredited by the American College of Surgeons to promote hospital reform based on outcomes in management of patient care. The American College of Surgeons’ hospital standardization program was merged in 1951 with similar efforts by the American College of Physicians, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, and the Canadian Medical Association. The new entity was called the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals. In 1987, the organization was re-branded as the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO, pronounced “jay-co”). It is now known as The Joint Commission.

Accreditation standards and CMS guidelines are constantly changing with revisions and mandates being issued every six months. To date one of the major challenges in hospitals has revolved around the amount of data that is collected and the lack of reporting and tracking systems by which to analyze it. Whether it is patient information, process or procedural data, medications and supply inventory, or routine maintenance and structural data, hospitals need process improvement and automation to help ensure compliance with accreditation standards. The most common areas of compliancy that hospitals continue to fail in, as identified by The Joint Commission, include the most common areas of compliancy that hospitals continue to fail in, as identified by The Joint Commission, includes that the hospital maintains the integrity of the means of outlet, building and fire protection features are designed and maintained to minimize the effects of fire, smoke, and heath, qualified staff receive and record verbal orders, The hospital measures, assesses, and, if needed, takes action to improve the timeliness or reporting, the timeliness of receipt of critical tests and critical results, and values by the responsible licensed caregiver, the hospital maintains complete and accurate medical records, the hospital safely stores medications, and medication orders are clear and accurate.

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