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Archive March 2015 XVI, No. 3

Prepare Like a Pro for Your Accreditation Survey

5 ways to stress less when the surveyor comes calling.

Kendal Gapinski

Kendal Gapinski, Contributing Editor


accreditation process WHAT — ME WORRY? A staff that's knowledgeable on the accreditation process can pave the way for a smooth survey.

Accreditation surveys can rob you of your patience, your fingernails and your sleep, but it doesn't have to be that way, not if you follow these 5 tips to ensure your facility is always survey-ready. If what the experts say is true — that constant preparation is the way to stress less when surveyors arrive — then you've got nothing to worry about.

1. Coach your staff
Ensuring your staff is ready for surveyors — and quashing fears of the unknown — is key to a successful survey. Patricia Thorbin, RN, BS, CPHQ, director of quality improvement for Watson Clinic in Lakeland, Fla., says sending employees to continuing education programs hosted by accrediting agencies or consultants prepares them like nothing else can. "It helps them to have a framework," she says.

When surveyors walk around, they'll be asking your staff questions on their job descriptions, policies, initiatives and other need-to-know items, says Kim Reeser, BSN, RN, CAPA, assistant nurse manager at the Reading Hospital in Reading, Pa. Ms. Reeser takes answers to questions asked during previous surveys, like current hospital initiatives or the name of the regulatory officer, and makes them available by placing them on the hospital's website or in cards kept in employees' name badges. "It's all about making that information very accessible and handy," says Betsy Adams, MSN, RN, CPAN, nurse manager at Reading Hospital.

Monthly meetings dedicated to discussing policy changes and other potential survey questions can also keep your staff on their toes, says Elodia Flores, RN, BSN, CASC, vice president of operations at Outpatient Healthcare Strategies. Another tip? Hire a third party to come in a few months ahead of time and perform a mock survey to spot potential dings and prepare everyone for the real deal, she says. "You have to include your employees," says Ms. Flores. "There needs to be alignment in your facility from top to bottom."

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