In a highly-anticipated move expected to significantly affect the regulatory rules that hospitals and other healthcare facilities are held to, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has officially adopted the 2012 edition of the Life Safety Code® (LSC).
CMS has confirmed that the final rule adopts updated provisions of the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) 2012 edition of the LSC as well as provisions of the NFPA’s 2012 edition of the Health Care Facilities Code.
Healthcare providers affected by this rule must comply with all regulations by July 4—60 days from the publication date of the rule in the Federal Register.
The adoption of the rule has long been anticipated, as the LSC, which governs fire safety regulations in U.S. hospitals, is updated every three years, and CMS has not formally adopted a new update since 2003, when it adopted the 2000 edition. As a result, CMS surveyors have been holding healthcare facilities to different standards to other regulatory agencies that have gradually adopted provisions of the new LSC in their survey requirements.
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.
Visit https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2016-10043.pdf  to read the full final rule.
View the CMS press release here: https://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Press-releases/2016-Press-releases-items/2016-05-03.html