Public Health Department Accreditation

Public Health Department Accreditation

By Karmen Hanson| Vol . 21, No. 38 / October 2013


Health care professionals and facilities have long been expected to meet a high standard of safe and effective care. Doctors, for example, must meet specific standards to receive a license to practice, and hospitals have to meet certain standards to receive Medicare funds. To date, such accreditation has not been required for public health departments. However, a nationwide movement is underway to encourage voluntary accreditation of public health agencies to ensure similar levels of quality, safety and readiness.

It often is not until a headline-grabbing public health crisis occurs—such as a food-borne illness or communicable disease outbreak—that gaps in the public health system appear on state lawmakers’ and the public’s radar. In such instances, policymakers often are called upon to answer questions about system oversight. State legislators interested in the accreditation process are learning more about the prerequisites and standards to help them make informed policy and appropriations decisions that meet the specific public health needs of their constituents.

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