The Joint Commission

An organization accredited by The Joint Commission can escape disciplinary action if sentinel events are not reported within three years.  The Joint Commission accredits civilian and military organizations.
The Joint Commission is an independent, not-for-profit organization that accredits and certifies more than 17,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. According to their website, the Joint Commission accreditation and certification is recognized nationwide as a symbol of quality that reflects an organization's commitment to meeting certain performance standards.

In support of its mission to continuously improve the safety and quality of health care provided to the public, The Joint Commission reviews organizations' activities in response to sentinel events. A "sentinel event" is defined by The Joint Commission as "an unexpected occurrence involving death or serious physical or psychological injury, or the risk thereof...Such events are called "sentinel" because they signal the need for immediate investigation and response."

After waiting for four years to receive MSG Kinamon's medical records and the OSI Report of Investigation, a complaint against the doctor, associated personnel, and Wright-Patterson Medical Center was filed with The Joint Commission in March 2010. The Joint Commission responded by explaining that their policy prevented them from evaluating issues greater than three years old and no action could be taken. 

The following is the letter than was sent in reponse to their decision to do nothing.


Is it not troublesome to you that the Air Force Office of Special Investigations Report of Investigation detailing the doctor's and associated staff's negligence was withheld from us until after your organization's three year limitation had passed and after the two year statute of limitations for submitting a tort claim to the government had passed? Your organization should be more concerned that a patient DIED, not how much time has elapsed. If your organization is truly interested in patient safety, the 88th Medical Group should not be able to hide behind the reluctance of the government to release information to family members. After all, there is no statute of limitations for murder.  

If I understand you correctly, an accredited organization can escape disciplinary action if they are able to prevent the reporting of sentinel events for three years. Interesting.  

Since you are unable to evaluate issues greater than three years old, you might want to consider removing the last sentence of your standard signature, "The Joint Commission stands ready to receive and review issues of concern about accredited organizations at any time and will act in accordance with all the information that is provided to us." (emphasis added)

An organization accredited by The Joint Commission can escape disciplinary action if sentinel events are not reported within three years.