National Patient Safety Goals

January 24, 2011
Lisa Schulmeister

Reviewed in 2009, and now revised and released.

In 2002, The Joint Commission established its National Patient Safety Goals (NPSG) program and the first set of safety goals became effective on January 1, 2003. The intent of the goals was to identify areas of practice that required increased attention to safety, such as proper use of abbreviations in health care, actions to reduce the possibility of wrong site surgery, and safer practices when administering “look alike, sound alike” drugs. The goals have been reviewed each year by a panel of safety experts who review the literature and solicit input from clinicians.

During 2009, the NPSGs underwent the review process and several changes were made in response to clinicians’ concerns about the resources needed to comply with the NPSGs. The NPSGs are program-specific (eg, ambulatory care, hospitals, home care, etc), have become more refined and specific over time, and more challenging to implement. The changes to the NPSGs reflect The Joint Commission’s efforts to focus the NPSGs on the topics that are of highest priority to patient safety and quality care.

The NPSG 8 on medication reconciliation is not included in these changes as additional work is being done to evaluate and refine the medication reconciliation expectations for accredited organizations. Earlier this year, The Joint Commission took action to reduce the burden of the NPSG on medication reconciliation for organizations. Effective January 1, 2009, NPSG 8 continues to be evaluated during the on-site survey, but survey findings are not factored into the organization’s accreditation decision.

Clinicians should take a look at the revised NPSGs and determine where their facilities are with respect to implementing the goals. The Joint Commission always welcomes comments and questions about the NPSGs via the Standards Interpretation Group at (630) 792-5900 or the Standards Online Question Submission Form at http://www.jointcommission.org/Standards/OnlineQuestionForm. The National Patient Safety Goals for each program and more information are available on The Joint

Commission website: http://www.jointcommission.org/PatientSafety/NationalPatientSafetyGoals.