Accrediting Organizations Chosen for Methadone Treatment Programs
SAMHSA selected four organizations this past fall to accredit substance
abuse treatment programs that use methadone and other medications
to treat heroin and similar addictions. The four organizations are
the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, the
Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, the
Council on Accreditation for Children and Family Services, and the
State of Washington Department of Social and Health Services Division
of Alcohol and Substance Abuse.
"Accreditation of methadone treatment programs is a fundamental shift in the way we approach drug abuse treatment in our Nation."
Charles G. Curie, M.A., A.C.S.W.
The selection is part of an ongoing SAMHSA initiative to improve
the quality and oversight of opioid treatment programs that use
methadone or Levo-Alpha-Acetyl-Methadol (LAAM). Accreditation, proven
over the years to produce effective outcomes in other parts of the
health care industry, is a widely adopted external quality assessment
system used by the Federal Government, states, managed care firms,
insurers, and others to ensure accountability for quality treatment.
The move to accreditation followed recommendations made by a 1997
consensus panel at the National Institutes of Health. The panel
concluded that existing Federal and state regulations limit the
ability of physicians and other health care professionals to provide
methadone maintenance services to patients and recommended accreditation
in lieu of regulations to improve the quality of care. The changes
are also consistent with a 1995 report by the Institute of Medicine
that stressed the need to readjust the balance among regulations,
clinical practice guidelines, and quality assurance systems. The
accreditation process replaced a 30-year-old inspection program
conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Accreditation
organizations will apply specific opioid treatment standards as
part of their reviews.
Opioid treatment programs were required to apply for certification
to one of the four accreditation organizations by March 4. Treatment
programs previously approved by FDA will have until May 19, 2003,
to complete the accreditation process.
"Accreditation of methadone treatment programs is a fundamental
shift in the way we approach drug abuse treatment in our Nation,"
said SAMHSA Administrator Charles G. Curie, M.A., A.C.S.W. "Accreditation
can help reduce stigma and discrimination by moving drug abuse treatment
into mainstream medicine. Physicians and other health care professionals
will make decisions based on standards that emphasize the best care
for patients—just like treatment for other diseases."
H. Westley Clark, M.D., J.D., M.P.H., Director of SAMHSA's Center
for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), pointed out that "as
a benchmark of quality, accreditation indicates that an organization
meets certain critical performance standards. This should enhance
community confidence in opioid treatment and enhance the ability
of treatment programs to access managed care contracts."
"This should enhance the ability of treatment programs to access managed care contracts."
H. Westley Clark, M.D., J.D, M.P.H.
CSAT, which oversees the accreditation program, is providing technical
assistance to opioid treatment programs to help them meet the accreditation
standards of the organization they have selected. Questions about
technical assistance should be directed to 1 (800) 839-6120. Questions
about Federal regulations or the Federal certification program should
be directed to 1 (866) 463-6687. Questions about the accreditation
process should be directed to the accreditation organization chosen
by the opioid treatment program.
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