Hallmark of Quality

Reprinted from PN August 2000

Who's "minding the store" when it comes to the care that rehab programs offer?

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Some fantastic things have quietly been taking place in the Veterans Health Administration's (VHA's) spinal-cord-injury (SCI) centers around the country. One example is VHA's commitment to uphold quality care by having its rehabilitation programs surveyed for CARF accreditation in a system-wide, long-term joint venture.

Accreditation represents an effort on the part of healthcare providers to demonstrate that their care meets industry standards developed by fellow consumers, providers, and purchasers.

What is CARF?

CARF—The Rehabilitation Accreditation Commission—is the preeminent standards-setting accrediting body for rehabilitation programs and services. In the almost 35 years since CARF was established, [it] has steadily and dramatically grown in size and stature. Currently more than 19,000 rehab programs across the United States, Canada, and Sweden have earned CARF accreditation in the areas of behavioral health; employment, community, and adult-day services; and medical rehabilitation.

CARF has had specialty standards for spinal-cord programs since 1983. The standards emphasize a system-of-care approach to the treatment of SCD. All accredited providers must have an inpatient and outpatient component within their continuum of care as well as document how they link with specialized services for people with SCD.

Working Together:


Early in 1990, PVA [the Paralyzed Veterans of America] became concerned that the spiraling national budget deficit was contributing to plans for VHA downsizing that could result in reduced quality of care within the VA SCI center system. As PVA investigated factors contributing to quality care, it recognized that accreditation standards provided a direct link to quality in medical rehabilitation.


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Hallmark of Quality


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