The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association launch new stroke certification program

July 17, 2015 Categories: Program News

OAKBROOK TERRACE, Illinois; DALLAS, Texas, JULY 17, 2015 — The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association announce the launch of a new Disease-Specific Care Advanced Certification Program for Acute Stroke Ready Hospitals. This certification was derived from the Brain Attack Coalition’s recommendations in 2013 (see “Formation and Function of Acute Stroke Ready Hospitals Within a Stroke System of Care” in the November 12, 2013 Stroke journal).

The Joint Commission began accepting applications July 1 for the new Acute Stroke Ready Hospital certification program. The certification is geared toward accredited hospitals that would not otherwise be candidates for Primary Stroke Center or Comprehensive Stroke Center certification. The goal of the new Acute Stroke Ready Hospital certification is to recognize those hospitals equipped to treat stroke patients with timely, evidence-based care prior to transferring them to a Primary or Comprehensive Stroke Center. Facilities that earn the Acute Stroke Ready Hospital distinction will be able to display The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Heart-Check mark.

“Currently, nearly half of the population in the United States live 60 or more miles away from a Primary Stroke Center or Comprehensive Stroke Center,” said Lee H. Schwamm, M.D., American Stroke Association spokesperson and executive vice-chairman of the department of neurology and director of stroke services at Massachusetts General Hospital. “If patients who experience an acute ischemic stroke can get treated with clot-busting medications quickly, more lives would be saved and more patients would have improved outcomes.”

Acute Stroke Ready Hospital certification is designed to help address the gap in access to acute stroke services, while improving the assessment, delivery and care for patients.

 “This new certification acts as an important bridge and will be a key component in an evolving system of stroke care,” said Wendi Roberts, executive director, Certification Programs, for The Joint Commission. “An Acute Stroke Ready Hospital will be the foundation for acute stroke care in many communities, allowing it to be the first stop on a patient’s acute stroke journey before being transferred to a Primary Stroke Center or Comprehensive Stroke Center. Certification demonstrates a commitment to a higher standard of service, while promoting approved the best quality care for all patients that present with a stroke.”

Acute Stroke Ready Hospital certification is awarded to eligible hospitals for a two-year period after an onsite review. Organizations seeking this certification must meet the requirements for The Joint Commission’s Disease-Specific Care Certification program, which include:

  • A dedicated stroke-focused program.
  • Staffing by qualified medical professionals trained in stroke care.
  • Collaboration with the local Emergency Management Systems (EMS) that encourages training in field assessment tools and communication with the hospital prior to bringing a patient with a stroke to the hospital.
  • 24/7 ability to perform rapid diagnostic and laboratory testing.
  • Ability to administer intravenous clot-busting medications to eligible patients.
  • Availability of telemedicine technology.
  • Use of transfer agreements/protocols with facilities that provide primary or comprehensive stroke services.

Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the United States, according to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. On average, someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds; someone dies of a stroke every four minutes; and 795,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year.


About The Joint Commission:

Founded in 1951, The Joint Commission seeks to continuously improve health care for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating health care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value. The Joint Commission accredits and certifies nearly 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. An independent, nonprofit organization, The Joint Commission is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. Learn more about The Joint Commission at

About the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association:

The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association are devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – America’s No. 1 and No.5 killers. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. The American Stroke Association is a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit or call any of our offices around the country. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Media Contacts:

Cathy Lewis, American Heart Assocciation: (214) 706-1324;

Elizabeth Eaken Zhani, The Joint Commission: (630) 792-5914;