Joint Commission now offering Comprehensive Cardiac Center Certification

The Joint Commission started accepting applications for a new, advanced Comprehensive Cardiac Center Certification on January 1. This voluntary program is for Joint Commission-accredited hospitals seeking an independent evaluation and recognition of their comprehensive cardiac center services.

This certification is for hospitals that offer the highest quality, most complete range of services for cardiac patients. It is designed for hospitals with robust cardiac care facilities, with the aim of helping institutions to establish the structures, processes, and culture necessary to achieve sustained levels of effective clinical performance and patient outcomes across cardiac specialties and the continuum of care.

This program will help health care centers deliver comprehensive cardiac care through compliance with consensus-based standards, effective integration of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines, an organized approach to performance measurement and improvement, and achievement and/or maintenance of required advanced disease-specific care certification requirements.

Scope of care requirements

At minimum, the institution’s scope of care, treatment, and services need to include management of the following domains (see Figure 1):

  • Ischemic heart disease, through medical and interventional/surgical care, including acute coronary syndrome treatments, percutaneous coronary interventions, and coronary bypass graft surgery
  • Cardiac valve disease, including valve replacement/repair procedures
  • Arrhythmias, including electrophysiology services and outpatient device clinics (formerly called pacemaker clinics but broadened to include automated internal cardiac defibrillators)
  • Advanced heart failure, including outpatient services
  • Cardiac arrest, including prevention of inhospital arrests, resuscitation, and targeted temperature management for cardiac arrest
  • Cardiac rehabilitation of patients, as indicated, either on site or by referral
  • Cardiovascular risk factor identification and cardiac disease prevention

Figure 1. Comprehensive Cardiac Center Certification domains

Figure 1. Comprehensive Cardiac Center Certification domains

Surgeon involvement

Cardiothoracic surgeons are identified in the Comprehensive Cardiac Center Certification standards as key members of both the executive leadership and interdisciplinary teams. Cardiothoracic surgeons will want to be included in the certification process and involved in the discussions and decisions regarding the adoption of clinical practice guidelines and performance improvement measures that relate to the surgical procedures in their areas.

Surgeons should also be aware that the review process will be looking for the following criteria:

  • Consistency of patient care based on guidelines that include surgical practice.
  • Standardized order sets related to surgical procedures.
  • No pattern of outliers in surgical practice among different surgeons. (Note: Variations from standard practice based on patient-specific clinical issues are expected; however, the reasons for variation from the standard of care need to be documented.)

The Joint Commission’s Comprehensive Cardiac Center Certification program was developed with input from a technical advisory panel comprised of clinicians with specific expertise in comprehensive cardiovascular care.

Additional information  about the Comprehensive Cardiac Center Certification program is available via the following resources:

Prepublication requirements are posted online.


The thoughts and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of Dr. Pellegrini and do not necessarily reflect those of The Joint Commission or the American College of Surgeons.

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