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Bureau of Prisons Selects New Health Care Accrediting Body

by Christopher Zoukis

The Federal Bureau of Prisons has contracted with the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC) to provide accreditation services at the 122 BOP institutions that provide medical, dental and mental health services to prisoners.

The AAAHC was founded in 1979 and according to its website is "the leader in ambulatory health care accreditation with more than 6,000 organizations accredited."

"AAAHC advocates for the provision of high quality health care through the development and adoption of nationally-recognized standards," notes the AAAHC website. "We provide a valuable survey experience founded on a collaborative, consultative, educational approach to peer-based, on-site review. The AAAHC Certificate of Accreditation demonstrates an organization's commitment to provide safe, high quality services to its patients."

In English, this means that the AAAHC will send a group of doctor and nurse "surveyors" to tell the institutions what they are doing wrong, and how they might fix it. If the institution meets the AAAHC standards, it will receive accreditation. Which the BOP is paying for.

If this accreditation process is in any way similar to the American Correctional Association (ACA) accreditation process, federal prisoners should not expect improvements in medical care as a result of AAAHC accreditation. As Marie Gottschalk notes in her book Caught, ACA visits are highly structured, with plenty of advance warning provided to the institution. As one might imagine, goings on at a prison expecting an accreditation visit do not resemble the normal, day-to-day situation.

Source: News Release, L.C. Williams and Associates;; Caught by Marie Gottschalk.

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