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Healthcare facilities often undergo accreditation by agencies qualified to do so. Typically voluntary, being accredited is usually beneficial to healthcare providers because they are usually considered up-to-date on safety standards and regional quality expectations and guidelines. Most accreditation services provide guidance on compliance with such regulations and can also help with educating healthcare employees. Healthcare accreditation sometimes focuses on a particular institution or specific programs. Other services can deal with medical services at home, health insurance plans, hospitals, or laboratories.
Some healthcare accreditation agencies offer services to recognize entire institutions instead of each individual part that makes them up. Recognition of individual programs often applies to a department or school, such as a college within a particular university. A specific curriculum in a school can be the target as well. Other types of healthcare accreditation recognize professional or vocational schools, as well as hospital-based educational programs.
Another kind of healthcare accreditation is for medical care received at home. Surveyors from the accrediting agency typically inspect homes that have equipment for caring for patients; the care is often directed by qualified physicians. A variation of this program can certify the actual home for use as a medical facility. Ambulatory care accreditation, another form, often applies to outpatient medical facilities that perform imaging tests, orthopedic services, plastic surgery, or dentistry. General health centers, dialysis facilities, and optometry offices often fall under this category as well.
Regional standards typically enforce a safe and clean environment, adequate record keeping, information management, and emergency preparation, which inspectors usually look for during healthcare accreditation. Laboratories in hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, and other clinics often seek accreditation, as do ones where blood transfusions and catheterizations are performed. In addition to hospitals and other healthcare facilities, office-based surgery centers, such as those used in dentistry or foot care, can seek a specialized type of healthcare accreditation. To be eligible, facilities sometimes need to employ a limited number of workers or be owned and operated by a physician.
Healthcare accreditation can also be provided for behavioral care services, such as those that manage addiction treatment, shelters, forensics, or family counseling. Sometimes it focuses on wellness programs in workplaces and other organizations. Accreditations for treatment of specific conditions such as heart disease or diabetes are often available as well. Safety is often one consideration, but an accredited hospital or clinic is usually at an advantage when it comes to marketing its services to the public.