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June 30, 2014

Joint Commission Should Investigate HealthFair Claims, Suspend Accreditation of Hospitals and Other Health Care Organizations That Promote the Company’s Inappropriate Screening Programs

Mobile Cardiovascular Health Screening Company’s Program Is Unethical, More Likely to Do Harm Than Good

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Public Citizen today called on The Joint Commission, a national accreditation group for health care organizations, to investigate whether cardiovascular screening company HealthFair or its partners have ever misled consumers to believe that they were accredited by The Joint Commission when they were not, Public Citizen said in a letter today.

In addition, The Joint Commission should suspend the accreditation of any health care organization still partnered with HealthFair and reject any application for accreditation from the company, Public Citizen said.

On June 19, Public Citizen urged 20 hospitals in eight states to sever their relationships with HealthFair because the company’s heavily promoted, community-wide cardiovascular health screening programs are unethical, not consistent with evidence-based guidelines issued by major medical professional organizations and much more likely to do harm than good.

Winter Park, Fla.-based HealthFair peddles inexpensive cardiovascular disease screening packages to people living near the hospitals and institutions without identifying who has relevant risk factors that would make each of the screening tests medically appropriate.

The screening tests are performed in buses, often bearing the names and logos of both HealthFair and the partner hospital or medical institution. The hospitals and health care organizations benefit from the referrals for follow-up testing when abnormal results are found by HealthFair’s screening programs.

Since Public Citizen sent its letter to the hospitals, one hospital – Memorial Healthcare System in Hollywood, Fla. – terminated its contract with HealthFair. In addition, the American College of Cardiology issued a statement supporting Public Citizen’s position.

According to information available on The Joint Commission’s website, HealthFair is not accredited by The Joint Commission. But two institutions – Mercy Cedar Rapids of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and INOVA of Falls Church, Virginia – have recently promoted the partnership by claiming that HealthFair is, indeed, accredited. “HealthFair is a national leader in mobile health testing and is the only such service accredited by The Joint Commission, a national performance standards organization,” Mercy Cedar Rapids says on its website.

“The Joint Commission should investigate these claims and promptly direct any institution that may have misled consumers to believe that HealthFair and its screening programs were accredited by The Joint Commission at a time when they were not to refrain from doing so in the future,” said Dr. Michael Carome, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group.  

“Hospitals and other health care organizations that sponsor HealthFair and promote the company’s unethical screening programs directly to the public do a great disservice to the communities they serve and to public health more broadly. Promoting such screening programs in inconsistent with evidence-based standards for medical care and is not consistent with the quality standards mandated by The Joint Commission.”

Read the letter to the Joint Commission.

Read the letter to the 20 hospital and medical institutions partnered with HealthFair.

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