November 05, 2009 | | Comments 0
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Even splintered, life safety standards top the citation list so far in 2009

When The Joint Commission announced a while back that the old EC.5.20 was the top cited standard in hospitals in 2008, there some observers (including me) who thought that statistic would be hard to repeat. After all, it was reasoned, the all-encompassing EC.5.20 had splintered into various new life safety standards in 2009, none of which would carry the punch of their predecessor.

Well, we non-believers were wrong. Information just released by Joint Commission Resources yesterday shows that for the first half of 2009, two life safety standards and an environment of care standard – all of them related to fire protection requirements – comprised three of the top five most cited standards in hospitals.

The standards in question include the following, as outlined by Joint Commission Resources:

  • LS.02.01.20 (top cited standard, with 45% of hospitals receiving findings), which requires hospitals to maintain their means of egress
  • LS.02.01.10 (second most cited at 43%), which requires hospitals to design and maintain building features to minimize the effects of smoke and fire
  • EC.02.03.05 (fourth most cited at 38%), which requires hospitals to inspect, test, and maintain fire protection equipment

Certainly, the efforts of The Joint Commission’s life safety specialists play a huge part in why fire protection citations are plaguing hospitals. But don’t discount the role of George Mills, senior engineer at The Joint Commission, who in many ways leads the charge.

Mills told attendees at the American Society for Healthcare Engineering’s annual conference in August not to expect any less pressure in the future on life safety compliance. He said enough hospitals are “train wrecks,” in his words, when it comes to life safety matters that he doesn’t want surveyors to let up on their scrutiny.

It’s amazing, in this period of H1N1 swine flu concern and public outcry over hospital-acquired infections, that life safety is the biggest survey worry these days. Can you imagine what would happen if The Joint Commission decided to introduce infection control specialists to the survey team?

Entry Information

Filed Under: Environment of careLife Safety Code


Scott Wallask About the Author: Scott Wallask is senior managing editor for HCPro's Hospital Safety Center ( and the award-winning newsletters, Briefings on Hospital Safety and Healthcare Life Safety Compliance. He has written about healthcare for HCPro since 1998, with a focus on occupational and building safety, emergency management, fire protection, and infection control. Prior to joining HCPro, he worked as a reporter for several newspapers in eastern Massachusetts. He holds a BA in print journalism, magna cum laude, from Northeastern University in Boston. Contact Scott at

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