Ask the expert: Sinks in exam rooms

By: April 21st, 2009 Email This Post Print This Post

Q: Are there any OSHA regulations that speak to the need for a sink to be in every exam room in an office practice setting?

A: A sink is not required in every exam room, but hand hygiene facilities must be readily available. This usually means having a hand sanitizing dispenser in the room.

Remember, the bloodborne pathogens standard requires hand washing with soap and water after removing gloves that have come in contact with blood or OPIM.  If you have an exam room where you perform procedures resulting in this type of hazard, you should either have a sink in the room or make it possible for the healthcare provider to progress from an immediately-available hand sanitizer to a sink in close proximity, according to “Acceptable use of antiseptic-hand cleansers for bloodborne pathogen decontamination and as an appropriate hand washing practice,” a March 31, 2003 OSHA interpretation letter.

This is an example of a simple work practice control that you can incorporate into your bloodborne pathogens training

An administrative control would be to assign your sink-less exam rooms to procedures with low potential for exposure and reserve your in-sink exam rooms for more exposure-prone procedures.

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By Rocio Galindo on November 19th, 2009 at 9:10 am

Do the sinks need to have hot water in the exam rooms?

By David LaHoda on November 19th, 2009 at 10:03 am

“Handwashing with soap and at least tepid running water must be performed as soon as feasible, particularly in cases of gross contamination, to adequately flush contaminated material from the skin,” according to Enforcement Procedures for the Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens.

Do we need to have sinks and faucets that are handicapped-accessible? If so, do they need to be at every sink or just certain ones? We are trying to replace an older faucet and knobs in our self-serve grooming room, and the conractor seems to think we need them.

RE:laser treatment (eye) rooms
Is a sink necessary in laser treatment rooms?

By David LaHoda on August 29th, 2011 at 9:10 am

I think the post above covers your laser treatment room question. Doesn’t it? Unless I am missing something.

I just wanted to know if this is a universal rule? Does is apply to NYS as well?

By David LaHoda on December 6th, 2011 at 11:05 am

Remember, this is for OSHA (worker safety) purposes. Some some healthcare facility accreditation standards may have higher standards. For OSHA purposes, this information applies to employers in New York State.

It is a CMS rule.

By David LaHoda on December 6th, 2011 at 2:08 pm


Not that I doubt you on the sink-in-every-exam room claim, but could you cite the CMS source, as I have not been able to find one. The comments on the CDC Health blog “Inspecting Outpatient Surgery Centers – Lapses in Infection Prevention” make reference to:

“There is no national requirement or guideline about sinks in medical office exam rooms that I am aware of. My understanding is that it us up to the individual state.”

I don’t like to say for certain that there is a government regulation for something without seeing it in writing.

By Denise Johnson on March 15th, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Where would I find out if a sink is required in every exam room in the state of Arizona?

Thank you for your time.

By elyse krug on March 15th, 2012 at 6:37 pm

I was originally told it was a CMS requirement. I could not find it. Just this week, I asked my contact for the specification standard and was told it is in the AIA guidelines. Yesterday, I emailed the local AIA chapter and requested the specific citation. If I get a response, I will post it.

By Frederick Michael Elliott on January 11th, 2013 at 8:56 am

Does anyone have any idea if portable sinks are ok in an exam room?

By M dholakia on April 10th, 2013 at 5:07 pm

What is requirment about sink in every medical exam room.In my setting I need to do Neurological exam only and no procedure.In sink in Procedure room will be enough.This is for state of MO

By Syed Naqvi on May 18th, 2013 at 4:57 am

Is there a requirement for a sink in each exam room in Urgent Care Centers in the State of Ohio?

By Steve Graham on September 26th, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Is a sink required in the diagnostic room for angio patients?

By Laurie Weber on January 16th, 2014 at 9:28 pm

Are sinks required in dental ops? I work for a dentist that does not have a sink in any of his four ops. He only has a sink in the sterilization room. Is this legal

By Tim Yablonowski on April 29th, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Hello, is it a Florida state requirement or collier county requirement to have a sink in every exam room or will a hand sanitizer.
Thank You

By sandra boehlert on July 23rd, 2014 at 9:14 pm

any problme with wall mounted sinks in a medical office. Some one mentioned that they are not supposed to support 400 pounds so what if a heavy person leans on such?

Is a sink needed in a medication room
in an Article 28 facility or is hand
santizer sufficient?


I work for a massage franchise in NJ.. built approximately 10 years ago. No sinks in massage rooms. I understand hand sanitizers, provided, don’t get to all the bacteria. The bathroom is approx. 40 feet (guessing) from the furthest treatment room; sometimes bathrooms are occupied and I have to run to the laundry room, not close by, to wash hands and/or stand in line and wait for sink availability; legal for no sinks?

In the state of Florida are there any regulations concerning hot water in patient restrooms?

We are currently remodeling our cardiology office. Currently all of the ultrasound imaging rooms have sinks. They are not planning to put sinks in the new exam rooms. What are the requirements for sink in exam rooms, especially in echocardiography rooms where IVs are started? If not in room, how close do sinks need to be ?
Thank you!

By Matt McIntyre on May 9th, 2015 at 8:56 pm

Does this same standard apply to veterinary exam rooms?

my question is. Does an office with 12 Dr’s 25+ exam rooms and 8 restooms have to have hot water anywhere in the building in CA.

By Aileen Gallatin on August 13th, 2015 at 10:51 am

Is there a requirement that a physician office lab have a sink, or as noted above hand sanitizer and ‘close proximity’ are ‘good enough”? Thank you

Florida: for the year 2015, it is still ok not to have sinks in exams rooms. We do plan to have one procedure room with a sink.

By Michelle Hastings on January 26th, 2016 at 3:22 pm

Hello, I am located in Missouri. We are building a new facility on our campus with an exam room for a nurse practitioner. Currently, there will be a sink in the exam room but the plans show that there is no bathroom nearby. First, is this legal and second, what problems might this pose? We will not be doing drug screens.

By asif saiyed on August 16th, 2016 at 12:22 pm

Do we need to have a sink with water/soap in exam room such as CT scan with biopsy procedures or interventional radiology area?
If a sink is available just around the corner within 15 seconds of the procedure room is that sufficient?


Is a sink required in a nurses station in a doctors office?

Is a toilet separated by a curtain allowed in an examination room in the clinic?

Can I have a water dispenser sitting on top if the medical grade refrigerator (medication refrigerator) in my IV room in a medical clinic???

Thank you so much!!!

Can I have a water dispenser sitting on top if the medical grade refrigerator (medication refrigerator) in my IV room in a medical clinic???

Thank you so much.

PS I am in California

By cheryl stanley on October 5th, 2018 at 3:29 pm

we are building a cath lab in Indiana–can a handwashing sink be inside this room?–I know you can’t in an Operating Room and I’m confused on the difference.

By rizseguin on April 4th, 2019 at 2:57 pm

What is the standard regulation about OBGYN exam room partition? If we place partition panels , instead of curtains in OB GYN clinic exam rooms, do we have a violation?

By Chere Shaw on July 10th, 2019 at 1:06 pm

I work in a medical Dr office and there is no hot water available for washing hands or surgical instruments. Use only cold soak sterilization. And no autoclave provided. Also out dated Clea tests and glucose strips used on patients. In cludes pregnancy and step and flutesting. Also patient is given out dated (expired) sample medications is this office in violation of osha code violation?

Chere Shaw, this needs to be reported to your state licensing/regulatory agency immediately!

By Emma JaneDoe on September 6th, 2019 at 2:25 pm

Now the question i have is, is it illegal or against osha to not have an accessible sink in a dental office? The nearest sink is located outside the building in a public restroom about 15 feet away. Is this okay?

Below comment still valid? please advise:

APRIL 21ST, 2009Email This Post Print This Post

Q: Are there any OSHA regulations that speak to the need for a sink to be in every exam room in an office practice setting?

A: A sink is not required in every exam room, but hand hygiene facilities must be readily available. This usually means having a hand sanitizing dispenser in the room.



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