Joint Commission to survey on 2012 Life Safety Code® in November

Accreditation Insider, June 14, 2016

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Joint Commission surveys will include requirements from the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) 2012 Life Safety Code® (LSC) starting in November. CMS had adopted the 2012 LSC in May with The Joint Commission following suit in early June. 

CMS published its final rule on Fire Safety Requirements for Certain Health Care Facilities on May 3, requiring hospitals to follow the 2012 versions of both the LSC and the NFPA 99 Healthcare Facilities Code. Aside from removing a proposed requirement for hospitals to install smoke-purging systems in operating rooms, most of the proposals CMS made in 2014 stayed the same. Categorical waivers for the 2012 LSC are now available for compliant organizations.

The CMS effective date for the change is July 5, but CMS released a memo last week that says it will give hospitals until November 1 to prepare for the new requirements. The Joint Commission is following suit; the accreditor has been given 60 days from June 8 to submit revised standards and other materials to CMS, according to a member alert from the American Society for Healthcare Engineering.

“The Joint Commission has advocated for this rule for many years and we are very pleased it has been adopted by CMS,” said George Mills, MBA, FASHE, CEM, CHFM, CHSP, director of engineering for The Joint Commission in a press release. “The adoption of the 2012 Life Safety Code finally allows healthcare organizations to take advantage of all the patient-centric features of this edition.”
Some of the main changes required under the final rule include:

•    Healthcare facilities located in buildings that are taller than 75 feet are required to install automatic sprinkler systems within 12 years. after the rule’s effective date.
•    Healthcare facilities are required to have a fire watch or building evacuation if their sprinkler systems is out of service for more than 10 hours.
•    The provisions offer long-term care facilities greater flexibility in what they can place in corridors. Currently, they cannot include benches or other seating areas because of fire code requirements limiting potential barriers to firefighters. Moving forward, LTC facilities will be able to include more home-like items such as fixed seating in the corridor for resting and certain decorations in patient rooms.
•    Fireplaces will be permitted in smoke compartments without a one-hour fire wall rating, which makes a facility more home-like for residents.
•    For ASCs, alcohol-based hand rub dispensers now may be placed in corridors to allow for easier access.

To get up to speed on the 2012 LSC, check out the following resources from HCPro Marketplace:
•    The New Life Safety Code®: How to Prepare in Advance
•    The New Life Safety Code® Workbook and Study Guide for Healthcare Facilities
•    The New Life Safety Code® Field Guide for Healthcare Facilities

View the CMS press release on the LSC here.

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