Accreditation of Hospitals: Relevant or Not?

Accreditation as an Unnecessary Ritual Scholarly views

Accreditation can be understood as a process of the objective assessment of services’ quality or a health care organization. However, scholars like Roth and Taleff (2002) argue that the standards promoted by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) (Joint Commission of Accreditation, 2000) only complicate the bureaucratic nature of accreditation, add paperwork to the management, and reduce the staff involvement into the hospital development process (p. 42). Accordingly, hospitals work on standard compliance more than on actual improvement of their services’ quality, which does not add value to the health care process.


Analyzing such an attitude towards the idea of hospital accreditation, it is possible to find the rational core in it. First of all, awaiting an accreditation procedure hospital officials usually take more time to create the impression of the proper services being presented rather than actually improve the services to the needed level.

Second, such an approach reduces the motivation of employees for organizational integration as the decision-making functions are concentrated in management departments. As a result, the process of hospital accreditation acquires a purely bureaucratic nature that does not add value to the hospital’s services, and accreditation thus becomes a process carried out for the mere sake of itself, not an improvement.

Cost and Usefulness of Accreditation

Scholarly views

The cost and usefulness of the accreditation process for reflecting the actual quality levels of hospital services are two more controversial points on which scholars display disagreeing views. Roth and Taleff (2002) and Morrissey (2004) stress the increased paperwork and the ambiguity of the standards imposed by JCAHO in particular contexts and come to the idea that accreditation is only an item in a hospital’s costs list. At the same time, Snyder (2005) finds accreditation useful for the overall service quality as all hospital staff works under increasing pressure and try to provide higher performance results than usually (Hospital Accreditation Standards, 2005; Snyder, 2005, p. 135).


Analyzing this controversy, it is possible to assume that the relation between costs and the actual usefulness of accreditation for every particular hospital depends on numerous factors. In brief, these factors may include the leadership philosophy adopted in a hospital, the current service quality observed in it, the levels of employee involvement in decision making, and the rate of empowerment that employees bring to the organization by their innovative ideas.

Pros and Cons of Accreditation

So, the above discussion of the scholarly views regarding the process of hospital accreditation allows outlining the pros and cons of this seemingly necessary but still rather controversial procedure. Considering the pros of accreditation, it is possible to include the potential for quality improvement, the development of the public attractiveness of the hospital, and the increase in employee empowerment for the hospital’s sustainable development.

The cons of the process also include the list of several factors like the possible increased paperwork, development of hierarchical gap between management responsible for accreditation and the hospital staff, additional unnecessary costs imposed, and lack of actual use of accreditation for showing the actual rates of the hospital’s service quality.

Thus, if a hospital develops its quality standards continuously to match the accreditation requirements and to preserve the achieved quality for the future, accreditation might be of use for it. On the contrary, if the major task is to only pass accreditation and work without attention paid to quality up to the next one, the accreditation becomes a costly and unnecessary process for a hospital.


Hospital Accreditation Standards. (2005). Hospital Accreditation Standards, 2006: Accreditation Policies Standards Elements of Performance Scoring. Joint Commission Resources.

Joint Commission of Accreditaion. (2000). Hospital accreditation standards: standards, intents: HAS. The Commission.

Morrissey, J. (2004). New and improved. Modern Healthcare. Chicago, 34(23), 8, 2 pgs.

Roth, W., Taleff, P. (2002). Health care standards: The good, bad, and the ugly in our future. The Journal for Quality and Participation. Cincinnati, 25(2), 40, 5 pgs.

Snyder, B. (2005). A Case Study… Secrets to a Successful JCAHO Survey. Biomedical Instrumentation & Technology, 39(2), 135 – 6.

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