CMS issues final rule updating fire safety standards

Facilities // The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently issued a final rule adopting the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA’s) 2012 Life Safety Code (LSC) with minor amendments as well as most chapters of its 2012 Health Care Facilities Code (HCFC) for hospitals, critical access hospitals, long-term care facilities, ambulatory surgical centers, inpatient hospice facilities and certain other facilities that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The final rule takes effect July 5. In addition to adopting the 2012 LSC and HCFC, the final rule will align certain requirements more closely to NFPA standards than originally proposed.

CDC, OSHA issue guidance on Zika protection

Infection prevention // The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently issued guidance for protecting outdoor workers, health care and laboratory workers, mosquito control workers and business travelers against occupational exposure to the Zika virus. According to the guidance, employers and workers in health care settings and laboratories “should follow good infection control and biosafety practices (including universal precautions) as appropriate,” to prevent or minimize the risk of Zika virus transmission. The CDC continues to recommend that health care workers use standard precautions during patient care, regardless of suspected or confirmed Zika infection status, the guidance notes.

HHS awards $260 million for health infrastructure

Construction // Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced more than $260 million in funding to 290 health centers in 45 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico for facility renovation, expansion or construction. The investment builds on the nearly $150 million awarded to 160 health centers for construction and/or renovation in September 2015. This funding comes from the Affordable Care Act’s Community Health Center Fund.

Joint Commission deletes program requirements

Facilities // The Joint Commission recently approved deletion of 131 requirements from its hospital accreditation program that it states are no longer necessary because they have become a routine part of operations and clinical practice. For instance, Element of Performance Standard EC.02.03.01 states that hospitals must take measures to minimize fire risk if patients are permitted to smoke. The Joint Commission states that it is being deleted because it is duplicative of another Element of Performance Standard. The changes will go into effect July 1.

AHA recommends robust IT testing infrastructure

Technology // The American Hospital Association (AHA) recently supported the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s proposal for more transparent surveillance of certified health IT products, and recommended that the agency prioritize actions that will increase confidence in the certified products. “Given the significant investments hospitals have made already, the AHA recommends a more robust testing and certification infrastructure as a starting point to improve the certification program,” wrote AHA Executive Vice President Tom Nickels. “Additionally, as part of the conformance testing infrastructure, the AHA renews the call for the federal government to support processes that permit the end user to access the testing infrastructure.”