May 2020

Important Announcement: 36-Month Look-Back Requirement Postponed

In July of 2018, Joint Commission International (JCI) announced the implementation of a new extended look back – known as a 36-Month Look-Back requirement – to the accreditation survey process. Over the past 2-plus years, the 36-Month Look-Back has also been referred to as a 3-Year Look-Back and Continuous Compliance. This requirement to show evidence of continuous compliance through a 36-month look back process was scheduled to be included in the survey process for all hospitals with an accreditation survey beginning on or after 1 January 2021.

We recognize that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals are focused on ensuring safe, quality patient care and may have altered the services normally provided to patients within their community. We know that these are very stressful times. As such, JCI has decided to postpone the implementation of the 36-month look back indefinitely.

This announcement pertains only to the new extended look-back process that was first announced in July 2018 and was scheduled for implementation on 1 January 2021.

To clarify, the original look-back process remains effective for all hospitals and academic medical centers and will remain in effect for surveys conducted in 2021. The original look-back process for all hospital and academic medical centers is as follows:

  • A 12-month look-back period of compliance for triennial surveys
  • A 6-month look-back period of compliance for initial surveys
  • No look-back period for a follow up survey; sustainability of improvement is used to evaluate compliance.

The Joint Commission International Hospital Standards are intended to promote continuous, systematic and organization-wide improvement in daily performance and in the outcomes of patient care. It is understood that during these incredibly challenging times, interruptions in non-critical activities, such as data collection, aggregation and analysis, inspection and maintenance of non-critical equipment, and other non-essential activities may be temporarily suspended. However, it is JCI’s expectation that all hospitals will maintain compliance with the JCI standards in such a way as to provide safe, quality patient care during the pandemic and develop a plan of action to address the return to continuous compliance with the JCI standards in the near future.

For more detailed information about the look-back period and scoring implications, please refer to the “Joint Commission International Survey Process Guide for Hospitals, 6th Edition.

The “Joint Commission International Survey Process Guide for Hospitals, 7th Edition” will be updated to reflect the original look-back policies in the form of errata.

Please contact with any further questions.

Trusted Guidance. Trusted Resources.

JCI would like to thank you and your organization for being a crucial part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. You truly are heroes, not just in these times of crisis, but every day. On behalf the team here at JCI, we salute you!

We have resources available for you on Joint Commission International’s COVID-19 resource center.

You can access JCI and industry resources in the following areas:

  • General COVID-19 Resources
  • Recovery and Reopening
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Preparedness Tools
  • Front Line Stories
  • Ambulatory Health Care
  • FAQ’s
  • And more!

Please let us know if I can assist you in any way. We wish you the best of health.

Helping you navigate COVID-19 on Joint Commission International.


Real Voices. Real Stories.

Just like many of you, JCI staff who are also working on the front lines are facing real challenges. We’d like to share some of their personal experiences.

Quick Action Taken to Mobilize Hospitals in Korea
Dr. Chinhak Chun discusses how hospitals in Korea worked to contain COVID-19. 

Click here to read Chinhak’s story. Click here to read Chinhak’s story

Working on Manpower Surge Planning
International surveyor, Mahyar Sadeghi implements different strategies in order to address ever-increasing workforce needs.

Click here to read Mahyar’s story. Click here to read Mahyar’s story.

Read more stories from Joint Commission staff working across US health system front lines.