During the COVID-19 crisis, AACI ceased all on-site accreditation and certification survey activities. We transitioned these processes to virtual platforms. By doing so, we enabled a smooth continuation of our accreditation and certification processes. This required a certain period of time to adjust and review the new formats to meet our standard and operational requirements. Accordingly, the all necessary procedures for remote surveys were prepared well in advance of Government border closures and travel bans, as well as the advent of hospital’s restrictions on external visitors.
Risk management is a primary pillar or our fundamental business approach. We continuously monitor and measure both internal and external issues which may impact responsibilities. Having said that, as soon as the initial information from China was publicized, AACI performed an extensive risk assessment. Accordingly, it was obvious that the escalation of this situation to epidemic proportions could significantly affect the operations of all our hospital facility customers. An AACI medical and administrative team led by Dr. John Bell, President, in concert with team members from multiple medical specialties, developed and reviewed contingency and mitigation plans to meet this challenge. As a result, AACI decided that the accreditation processes should be conducted on-line, or remotely, to minimize risk to all interested parties.
The outcome of this risk management process was that we developed all procedures for remote surveys and made them operational one month prior to Government lockdowns and two months before the first remote surveys took place. We had ample time to share this innovative methodology with all our clients, and to provide them with all the necessary instructions, procedures, and lists of documents required for the remote survey. Additionally, we elicited feedback, constructive criticism, and approval from all our clients prior to onset. As a result, when remote surveys became necessary it was “business as usual”.
In contrast, we have observed a lack of preparedness on the part of many hospitals and government entities in relation to the worldwide situation we are currently witnessing. Please note that the AACI accreditation standard contains four important requirements which could have been implemented to mitigate or improve the current situation effecting the lives of millions of people.
Please see below:
10.1.1. The healthcare organization shall establish a framework, procedure and documented process that addresses risk management related to safety of all personnel, and the strategies, operational and financial integrity of the healthcare organization
10.1.3. i) This process shall establish methods to define, record, analyze, and learn from incidents that impact patient safety including infection prevention and control issues as described in Standard 22.
INFECTION PREVENTION AND CONTROL
22.3.1. The infection control officer(s) shall develop and implement an annual Infection control plan consistent with the needs of the healthcare facility. This plan shall be based on a risk assessment defining the most likely threats to the healthcare organization scope of services.
EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT PROCESS
27.4.6. Emergency management process shall be based upon the most probable emergencies or other circumstances that may impact the healthcare organization.
Truthfully, the current situation could have been mitigated by following our standards. We should all learn much about risk management as a result of this crisis. Future development of our accreditation standards will emphasize relevant, reliable risk management methods and review – including emergency management processes. Meaningful accreditation standards are designed to help our clients protect and preserve their patients, and to promote their confidence and satisfaction with our services. Hopefully as a result of this crisis the demand for relevant standards will emerge.
AACI, Ruling Risk Saving Lives!