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JCAHO and the marketplace of ideas

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March 30, 2004 -- An item in Scott Allen's "White Coat Notes" column in today's Boston Globe, "Silencing debate on the nursing shortage," reported that the Joint Commission of Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) had "pulled the plug" on the scheduled appearance of Brandeis University sociologist Dana Beth Weinberg at a mid-April conference on the nursing shortage because of hospital complaints about her "perceived bias."

Allen reports that Weinberg's book, Code Green: Money-driven Hospitals and the Dismantling of Nursing, has been "well-reviewed for its even-handed approach" despite what some of the complaining hospital officials evidently felt was a "disparaging title." The report also cites unnamed nursing advocates as arguing that the "about-face" by JCAHO--which apparently occurred within 24 hours of its first advertising of the conference--shows "how defensive hospitals are about the growing nursing shortage, which has prompted legislators in Massachusetts to push a bill that would require minimum nursing levels."

According to its web site, the JCAHO is an "independent" organization that accredits health care institutions. Fifteen of its 29 current board members are physicians, and at least 10 board members appear to be hospital or insurance company executives, including the board's two nurses.

On December 2, 2003, JCAHO gave its 2003 Ernest E. Codman Award to Linda Aiken, RN, PhD, FAAN, the Penn scholar who has done groundbreaking research on the harmful effects of the nursing shortage, citing Aiken "for her leadership role in utilizing performance measures to draw attention to important issues in nursing care."

See Scott Allen's article "White Coat Notes: Silencing debate on the nursing shortage" in the March 30, 2004 edition of the Boston Globe.

Order Dana Beth Weinberg's book, Code Green: Money-driven Hospitals and the Dismantling of Nursing.


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