JCAHO Accredited Drug Rehabs, Why Those 5 Letters Mean Everything.

JCAHO Accredited Drug Rehabs, Why Those 5 Letters Mean Everything.

Why JCAHO Accredited Treatment Centers Matter

In the fall of 2002 a young man was driven to a small Pennsylvania town. His Uncle, no longer sober in life, but sober for the drive navigated his nephew and his nephews parents to his former rehab. The young man named Jimmy was withdrawn, sick and pale. A lifetime of heroin abuse tearing apart his body as his parents and uncle set him down in the nurse’s ward of the drug rehab. They returned home fingers crossed that Jimmy would get the help he needed, that they had selected the right treatment center for heroin abuse. Their drive home was quiet as they silently prayed for their son and nephew. Jimmy needed all the prayers he could get.

Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations

The treatment center stuck him in a room the size of a small closet, fed him Librium and closed the door for two days. When he woke after 48 hours of neglected care Jimmy was placed in a gym, blindfolded with 50 other addicts and alcoholics and made to sit on his hands on metal chairs. For over 6 hours Jimmy and the rest of the patients screamed out loud all the things they had done that were wrong. When meals were served, if you weren’t one of the first in line, you didn’t eat.

The drug rehab that was chosen for Jimmy was not JCAHO Accredited.

Licensed and JCAHO Accredited Treatment Centers Mean Good Business

Jimmy’s story is not unique. Abuses of care like this happen all the time and the best way to ensure that the person you love is going to a top-notch facility is to make sure that it is JCAHO accredited. All reputable Inpatient, Intensive outpatient and outpatient treatment centers will be JCAHO accredited. JCAHO stands for Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. For many years this non-profit organization has set the standard for how healthcare organizations should be run. Their strict and thorough accreditation process separates the inferior drug rehabs from the exceptional ones. Their gold logo stands out in the crowd and makes it easy to know that the facility your sending your son to is not like the one Jimmy attended. The benefits of attending a JCAHO facility are never ending and its importance, never overstated.

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The History of The Joint Commission

Upon its founding in 1951 the Joint commission was known as, The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals (JCAH). In 1961 JCAH gained national importance when the federal government decided that if a hospital met all of the JCAH’s requirements it also met the Medicare conditions of participation. This was a historic move by the government to put so much faith in the opinion of a 501c3 non-profit organization. This sort of unprecedented support would have been very influential to Jimmy’s parents had they known the importance of the JCAHO accreditation or as it was known at the time – JCAH. In 1970, now named JCAHO, the organization began accreditation processes for behavioral health, which included substance abuse treatments centers. In 1998, the Joint Commission International was formed taking it’s influence to healthcare organizations outside of the United States. Today the Joint Commission is known across the country as the gold standard of substance abuse accreditation and evaluates more than 21,000 organizations in the United States.

The Accreditation Process Is Close to Perfection


One of the main reasons that JCAHO Accreditation has become so well respected all over the world it its extensive, rigid and extremely though accreditation process. The Joint Commission’s accreditation requirements look at an organization’s conduct regarding treatment, care and services, making one-hundred percent sure that these three areas are being administered with the highest level of quality and compassion. Once the accreditation process begins, surveys are conducted by each team of behavioral health care professionals, all with the highest level of experience, education and licenses. This highly qualified group of accreditation professionals includes social workers, psychologists, behavioral health counselors and more. Most of the individuals conducting the surveys also work in other drug and alcohol treatment facilities, this ensures that the best experts in the industry are the ones granting accreditation.

Every 39 days accreditation is due for renewal and to ensure that the highest standards are being met on a consistent basis all of the surveys are unannounced. Anyone can pass a test when they have 2-weeks to prepare for it but it takes a solid and exceptional drug rehab to be in fit condition to pass the strict standards of JCAHO 365 days a year. After further investigation, it was determined that the treatment center Jimmy attended was at one time JCAHO accredited, but they were unable to raise their standards daily and failed their second survey.

The real failure of Jimmy’s drug rehab occurred when the JCAHO professionals randomly selected patients (as they do at all drug rehabs they survey) and inspect their records under a microscope. The JCAHO team then speaks to random patients and all of the healthcare professionals that they have interacted with or received care from. Once this intense inspection of records, administration procedures, medication handling and maintenance is finished a rehab can then be certified for a period of 39 months. The team is incredibly detailed and dosn’t miss a single signature or misstep. Successfully completing a JCAHO survey is an incredible accomplishment for any drug rehab.

The Benefits of The JCAHO Seal of Approval

When it was eventually time for Jimmy’s parents to ship him off to treatment center number 2 they were acting like heat seeking missiles with their eyes peeled for that JCAHO golden seal, for with it they learned a whole host of benefits and quality assurances.

Benefits of JCAHO Accreditation

JCAHO Accreditation

1. Provides Organizational Structure
The first of these benefits is that the Joint Commission provides a guidepost and framework for how to structure and manage a drug rehab. By offering a guide book on organizational structure it ensures that treatment centers for drug and alcohol abuse adhere to policy’s that benefit the patients and prevents over enthusiastic and eccentric business owners with no mental health experience from dictating unproven treatment methods and modalities.

2. Grants Confidence
Ask Jimmy’s parents about this. A parent who knows the survey procedure and the credibility that comes with JCAHO approval is a parent who can sleep well at night knowing that their money is well spent and that their child is in a safe place. Often times communities have many trepidations about allowing a drug rehab into their area. The JCAHO gold symbol almost always calms those concerns.

3. Ongoing Support and Resources
The Joint Commission is not an organization that polices substance abuse facilities. They are actually a trusted partner in the rehabilitation of drug addicts and alcoholics. They make sure the facilities they visit are doing everything in their power to help their patients and they also provide support and resources to ensure that the centers keep performing above standard.

The Drawbacks to JCAHO Accreditation

There are none.

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