“Regulation involves rules that must be followed, while accreditation is a seal of approval (from some independent accrediting body) certifying that an organization or individual has met specific standards. In practice, in health care, accreditation is frequently so essential that many accreditation requirements have the same power as regulations”., (Warburton, 2009). Regulations for healthcare organizations are mandated by federal, state, and local organizations which must be met in order for them to operate. Hospitals are submitted to unannounced surveys from these organizations on a regular basis but also when there is a patient complaint or follow-up survey. The regulations are compulsory. Compliance to the regulations is extremely important since these agencies have the authority to close down a hospital for serious infractions.
Accreditation ensures that the healthcare organization meets not only the governmental regulations but also the standards determined by an organization which is recognized as an external accrediting agency. The agency used in my hospital and in the US is the Joint Commission which is paid by the hospital to perform the accreditation. Surveyors, a nurse or physician and an environmental supervisor make unannounced onsite visits to survey all clinical areas for 1 to 5 days depending on the size of the facility. They speak to hospital leadership, all levels of staff, patients, and conduct tracers which follow a patient and their care from admission to discharge to determine continuity and quality of care. They focus on infection prevention, patient care practices, documentation, training of staff, staffing ratios, insuring that patients of every gender and culture are provided with the same level of care. I have been through 5 surveys and we have met the standards each time. Hospitals need the accreditation for financial reimbursement and to market themselves as a quality institution.
The Joint Commission. (2020). Facts about the joint commission.
Warburton, R.N., (2009). Accreditation and regulation: Can they help hospitals improve patient safety? AHRQ. PS Net.