UnityPoint Health - Des Moines announced Thursday that Iowa Lutheran Hospital in Des Moines has achieved ISO - 9001 certification, making it the first hospital in the state to achieve the internationally recognized quality designation. The hospital group said it is seeking the certification for its other three Greater Des Moines hospitals - Iowa Methodist Medical Center, Blank Children's Hospital and Methodist West.

The global quality designation is more well-known to American manufacturers, who have long used the program as an indicator of quality assurance for their suppliers. A number of health-care organizations have begun to move toward the designation for accreditation purposes within the last several years.

The ISO 9001-2008 certification through DNV Healthcare Inc., a business of global risk-management company Det Norsk Veritas AS, signifies that Iowa Lutheran has implemented a quality management system that includes review of acute medical, surgical, critical care, rehabilitative, obstetrical, emergency care, laboratory and radiology services.

"This certification is a cornerstone in the continuing effort to provide our patients with the best care and services available," Eric Crowell, president and CEO of UnityPoint Health - Des Moines, said in a release.

Seven other Iowa hospitals are currently working towards ISO 9001 certification, said Todd Welda, a spokesman for DNV Healthcare Inc. DNV Healthcare was approved in 2008 by the U.S Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to accredit acute care hospitals in the United States. Since then it has also been granted authority to accredit critical access hospitals.

For Iowa Lutheran, the certification replaces its former affiliation with the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals (JCAHO), which ended in 2009 when the hospital began the process to become ISO 9000-certified, said Amy Varcoe, a UnityPoint Health - Des Moines spokeswoman.

A spokesperson for Mercy Medical Center - Des Moines, the metro's other major hospital group, said Mercy has no plans to switch from JCAHO certification to the ISO 9001 standard at this time. A Broadlawns Medical Center representative could not be reached for comment.

UnityPoint Health's other Greater Des Moines hospitals - Iowa Methodist Medical Center, Blank Children's Hospital and Methodist West, are expected to become ISO 9001 certified within about the next year, Varcoe said.