The Importance of Joint Commission Maternal Health Standards and How They Were Compiled

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

This article excerpts a HealthStream article by Trisha Coady, BSN, RN, Senior Vice President and General Manager of HealthStream’s Clinical Solutions, about the new perinatal care standards that have been issued by the Joint Commission.

The new Joint Commission Standards for maternal and perinatal safety establish multiple requirements for improving maternal care and outcomes. For example, they call “for maternity units to keep life-saving medications immediately accessible. Hospitals also must plan for the rapid release of blood supplies for transfusions” (Stein, 2019). Because a rapid response is often essential when dealing with complications, the standards focus strongly on making equipment and medication available for when they are needed.

Who Is the Joint Commission?

As an independent, not-for-profit organization, The Joint Commission is our country’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in healthcare. It accredits and certifies more than 22,000 healthcare organizations and programs across the United States. The mission of the Joint Commission is to “continuously improve health care for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating health care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value.” Their corresponding vision is to ensure that “all people always experience the safest, highest quality, best-value health care across all settings.”

Why Is Joint Commission Accreditation Important?

In addition to their obvious value as a contributor to better care, maternal patient safety, and outcomes, compliance with these and other Joint Commission standards has a clear value for healthcare organizations in multiple official directions. Some of the most important plusses may include qualification for participation in Medicare or Medicaid, being a prerequisite for eligibility for insurance reimbursement, fulfilling some state regulatory requirements, and may qualify an organization for a reduction in the cost of liability insurance.

How the Maternal Safety Standards Were Compiled

In their efforts to prepare hospitals for the new standards, a new R3 Report from the Joint Commission provides guidelines for 13 new elements of performance (EPs). This report includes the requirements, each supplemented with a corresponding rationale and reference. An important attribute of these standards is that they are the product of some of the most advanced U.S. expertise in maternal health outcomes. In addition to compiling data from an extensive literature review and public field review, The Joint Commission consulted with a Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) of subject matter experts in maternal health and a Standards Review Panel (SRP) of clinicians and administrators to provide an insider’s perspective. Organizations involved in putting together these standards included The Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM), a source for valuable recommendations, whose program’s maternal safety bundles provide best practices for maternity care. The Standards also incorporate advice from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative (CMQCC), and other national experts in evidence-based practice for maternal healthcare.

The new standards were published online in the Spring 2020 E-dition update for the hospital program, and in print in the 2020 Update 1 for the Comprehensive Accreditation Manual for Hospitals; however, organizations will not be held to these requirements during surveys until January 2021.

In addition, the article includes:

  • Uncovering the Serious Problems That Exist in Maternal Healthcare
  • Statistics about Maternal Health Outcomes and Disparities
  • What Are Some of the Specific Maternal Health Problems?


Stein, L., “Hospital safety fix targets maternal mortality rate for postpartum hemorrhage, preeclampsia,” USA Today, Updated October 29, 2019, Retrieved at

Download this article, “New Joint Commission Guidelines Target Poor Maternal Mortality Outcomes,” to learn about the new Joint Commission safety standards for the improvement of maternal and perinatal care, and why it has taken so long for the US to understand the need for them.

HealthStream Focuses on Clinical Development

At HealthStream we spend a lot of time focused on improving outcomes by developing the clinical workforce. HealthStream’s jane™ is The World’s First Digital Mentor for Nurses. Jane harnesses the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to create a system that personalizes competency development at scale, quickly identifies risk and opportunity, and improves quality outcomes by focusing on critical thinking. Leveraging decades of research and with over 4 million assessments completed, Jane was designed to power lifelong, professional growth of clinical professionals. JaneTM is an important component of HealthStream’s suite of clinical development solutions.