Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations
Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations or "JCAHO", pronounced "JAY-koh", is a non-profit organization that provides accreditation to hospitals.
Medicare laws require that a hospital be accredited by JCAHO to receive funding, making this accreditation virtually essential for every single hospital. JCAHO collects as much as $26,000 per survey, which it does every three years at every hospital. Over 99% receive accreditation. JCAHO earns $113 million in annual revenue.
JCAHO has been accused of having conflicts of interest with the hospitals it regulates. For example, JCAHO will earn fees from hospitals in order to coach them on how to pass the surveys. It is common for a hospital to pass a JCAHO review, only to have a scandal erupt shortly afterwards. For example, JCAHO accredited California's Redding Medical Center, Maryland General Hospital in Baltimore, and Norwalk Hospital in Connecticut, only to have serious problems surface shortly after the reviews.
Nelson J. Sabatini, Maryland's health commissioner, described this system of federal oversight as "a fraud. A lot of what they call regulation is really self-regulation. They're being told to be partners. It doesn't work."