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How to Make Accreditors Happy: Keep Current Handbook Handy

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Sandy Berreth is the administrator of Brainerd Lakes Surgery Center in Baxter, Minn., and a surveyor for the AAAHC.

She said she is always surprised by the number of surgery center administrators who don't own the current standards handbook for their accrediting body.

"If your accreditation is for [2014], you're going to be accredited with the [2014] standards, not the 2009 or 2008 standards," she said. Prepping for accreditation now means purchasing the most recent standards handbook. While the majority of standards do not change from year to year, small changes can make the difference between a positive and negative outcome for a surveyed center. For instance, between 2008 and 2009, the AAAHC added a chapter on infection control standards to its handbook.

When she walks into a center to start a survey, Ms. Berreth said, she usually said upfront, "Why don't you grab your handbook so that when we discuss standards, and we'll be able to refer to your book?" If the surgery center administrator returns with a standards book that is two or three years old, that sets off a red flag in her mind. Make sure you have a copy of the most current standards handbook easily accessible in your surgery center so you're prepared to answer any questions about compliance when the time comes.

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