Even if I hadn't known the hospital inspectors were coming, I would have figured it out quickly enough from my email.
The admonitions were flying:
"Know your safety protocols backwards and forwards!"
"Sign things legibly, or at the very least print your name below the signature."
"Wash your hands before and after patient contact. (The surveyors will be watching .... )"
It's boilerplate stuff that doctors like me should do all the time but often overlook.
Now we were about to be graded. Hospitals that the quality inspectors deem deficient can lose their accreditation and be barred from Medicare reimbursement.
A nonprofit called the Joint Commission, though not on the tip of patients' tongues, is the outfit we're accustomed to seeing every three years for these quality checkups.
So I was surprised to learn that the surveyors, as they like to be called, were coming instead from a Norwegian company called DNV, that's short for Det Norske Veritas, or, in English, "The Norwegian Truth."
The company has been approved by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to certify hospitals since 2008.
Suffice it to say that most doctors, like me, have never heard of them.
My first thought was, "What? There's an alternative?"
I'd always believed that the Joint Commission had a monopoly in the hospital accreditation and certification business. At the very least, it always seemed to be some sort of quasi-governmental organization.
As it turns out, that isn't true. Welcome, upstarts. With little competition until now, the Joint Commission has tended to be viewed adversarially by hospital insiders.