HCN News & Notes

Joint Commission Issues New Standards to Address Eating Disorders

OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill. — The Joint Commission is implementing new behavioral healthcare standards, effective July 1, 2016, to better address the care, treatment, or services of eating-disorders programs. The new standards impact Joint Commission-accredited behavioral healthcare organizations providing outpatient or residential eating-disorders programs.

In the U.S., 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life, according to the National Eating Disorders Assoc. Ninety-five percent of those who have eating disorders are ages 12 to 25, and 25{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of college-aged women engage in binging and purging.

“Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate among people with behavioral health disorders. They can cause very complex emotional and physical problems, resulting in severe medical consequences, including heart disease, bone loss, muscle weakness, and depression,” said Tracy Collander, executive director, Behavioral Health Care Accreditation Program, the Joint Commission. “This is why the Joint Commission decided it was so important to develop and implement new standards to improve patient safety and quality of care for eating-disorder patients and their families.”

The new requirements are to appear in the following chapters of the Comprehensive Accreditation Manual for Behavioral Health Care Organizations: “Care, Treatment and Services”; “Leadership”; “Performance Improvement”; and “Rights and Responsibilities of the Individual.” The requirements also address several aspects of eating-disorders programs, including assessments, data collection and analysis, transitions of care, roles of key staff and other clinicians, supervision of individuals served, family involvement, and much more. In addition, the standards have a strong emphasis on several variables of eating disorders that need to be evaluated and treated, as well as the integration of medical and nutritional components.

Joint Commission standards are developed with input from healthcare professionals, providers, subject-matter experts, consumers, government agencies, and employers. They are informed by scientific literature and expert consensus and are reviewed by the Board of Commissioners. New standards are added only if they relate to patient safety or quality of care, have a positive impact on health outcomes, meet or surpass law and regulation, and can be accurately and readily measured.

“Everyone who struggles with these life-threatening illnesses deserves quality treatment and recovery,” said Claire Mysko, CEO of the National Eating Disorders Assoc. (NEDA). “The implementation of the Joint Commission standards is an important step forward for the eating-disorders field and for the millions of individuals and families NEDA serves.”