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What’s New in the Patient Safety World

December 2020

Joint Commission 2021 National Patient Safety Goals



The Joint Commission has announced its 2021 National Patient Safety Goals (TJC 2020). The NPSG’s for hospitals are: 


Goal 1. Improve the accuracy of patient identification.

·       NPSG.01.01.01 Use at least two ways to identify patients. For example, use the patient’s name and date of birth. This is done to make sure that each patient gets the correct medicine and treatment


Goal 2. Improve the effectiveness of communication among caregivers.

·       NPSG.02.03.01 Get important test results to the right staff person on time


Goal 3. Improve the safety of using medications.


·       NPSG.03.04.01 Before a procedure, label medicines that are not labeled. For example, medicines in syringes, cups and basins. Do this in the area where medicines and supplies are set up.

·       NPSG.03.05.01 Take extra care with patients who take medicines to thin their blood.

·       NPSG.03.06.01 Record and pass along correct information about a patient’s medicines. Find out what medicines the patient is taking. Compare those medicines to new medicines given to the patient. Give the patient written information about the medicines they need to take. Tell the patient it is important to bring their up-to-date list of medicines every time they visit a doctor.


Goal 6. Reduce patient harm associated with clinical alarm systems.


·       NPSG.06.01.01 Make improvements to ensure that alarms on medical equipment are heard and responded to on time.


Goal 7. Reduce the risk of healthcare–associated infections.

·       NPSG.07.01.01 Use the hand cleaning guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization. Set goals for improving hand cleaning. Use the goals to improve hand cleaning.


Goal 15. The hospital identifies safety risks inherent in its patient population.

·       NPSG.15.01.01 Reduce the risk for suicide.


Universal Protocol. Introduction to the Universal Protocol for Preventing Wrong Site, Wrong Procedure, and Wrong Person Surgery™

·       UP.01.01.01 Make sure that the correct surgery is done on the correct patient and at the correct place on the patient’s body.

·       UP.01.02.01 Mark the correct place on the patient’s body where the surgery is to be done.

·        UP.01.03.01 Pause before the surgery to make sure that a mistake is not being made


You can access the NPSG’s for other venues at the Joint Commission’s NPSG website.



We’ll comment on the Elements of Performance for just a few of these NPSG’s.


Element(s) of Performance for NPSG.07.01.011 really focus on hand hygiene They require you implement a program following either the current CDC or WHO hand hygiene guidelines, that you set goals for compliance, and you actually improve compliance based on those goals.



Element(s) of Performance for NPSG.02.03.01

1. Develop written procedures for managing the critical results of tests and diagnostic procedures that address the following:
- The definition of critical results of tests and diagnostiic procedures
- By whom and to whom critical results of tests and diagnosstic procedures are reported
- The acceptable length of time between the availability annd reporting of critical results of tests and diagnostic procedures

2. Implement the procedures for managing the critical results of tests and diagnostic procedures.

3. Evaluate the timeliness of reporting the critical results of tests and diagnostic procedures.


We refer you to our many columns on “communicating significant results” listed below.



See also our other columns on communicating significant results:






The Joint Commission. National Patient Safety Goals Effective January 2021 for the Hospital Program. The Joint Commission 2020



The Joint Commission. 2021 National Patient Safety Goals. The Joint Commission 2020





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