Joint Commission gets head start on surveying to 2012 NFPA codes

Although Joint Commission-accredited facilities are not required to comply with the National Fire Protection Association’s 2012 NFPA 101 and NFPA 99 codes until Jan. 9, the organization says it already has begun surveying ambulatory care, behavioral health care, critical access hospital, hospital, home care and nursing care center programs according to the recently adopted codes.

The Joint Commission adopted the codes in concert with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which adopted the codes in May. The Joint Commission also revised several requirements in its Environment of Care and Life Safety chapters to stay consistent with the NFPA codes.

CMS proposes new fire safety requirements for some dialysis facilities

Yesterday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a proposed rule to update Medicare fire protection guidelines for certain dialysis facilities to ensure that patients are protected from fire while receiving treatment in those facilities.

This rule adopts, for certain dialysis facilities, updated provisions of the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) 2012 edition of the Life Safety Code (LSC), as well as provisions of the NFPA’s 2012 edition of the Health Care Facilities Code in order to bring CMS’s requirements more up to date with today’s fire safety standards.

The proposed rule addresses construction, protection and operational features of dialysis facilities to provide safety from fire and smoke to Medicare beneficiaries. Some of the main requirements laid out in this proposed rule include:

  • Doors to hazardous areas must be self-closing or must close automatically.
  • Alcohol-based, hand-rub dispensers now may be placed in corridors to allow for easier access.
  • A fire watch or building evacuation is required if the sprinkler system is out of service for more than 10 hours.

ASHRAE seeks comment on proposed standard for high-performing health care facilities

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers today opened public comments on its proposed Standard 189.3P, Standard for the Design, Construction and Operation of Sustainable High-Performance Health Care Facilities. The proposed standard addresses sustainability in health care facilities as a "document paralleling, yet distinct from," ASHRAE 189.1, Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings. The public review of the draft proposal will run for 30 days.

CMS adopts revised site-neutral policy for outpatient and ambulatory surgical center payment rule

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule updating hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) rates by 1.65 percent in 2017 compared with that of 2016. The rule also implements Section 603 of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which requires that, with the exception of dedicated emergency department services, services furnished in off-campus, provider-based hospital outpatient departments that began billing under the OPPS on or after Nov. 2, 2015, no longer be paid under the OPPS. Under the new rule, hospitals will be paid under the physician fee schedule at newly established rates for these services. 

In addition, CMS finalizes its proposal that the relocation of an existing hospital outpatient department (HOPD) will result in the loss of its grandfathered status and in its being paid at the new rate, except in extraordinary circumstances. CMS also finalizes its policy regarding an HOPD that has a change of ownership. However, CMS will not apply reduced payment to grandfathered HOPDs that expand services.

“CMS’s final rule appropriately recognizes that providing no payment to new off-campus hospital clinics for the services they provide to patients was an untenable policy,” said AHA Executive Vice President Tom Nickels, who noted that the AHA will evaluate the new payment level to “ensure that it is fair and reasonable,” and that CMS can implement it for 2017. 

Study: Complete sanitation of robotic surgical instruments virtually impossible

It is virtually impossible to remove all contamination from robotic surgical instruments, even after multiple cleanings, according to a study published today in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. The results show that complete removal of surface contaminants from these tools may be unattainable, even after following manufacturers’ cleansing instructions, leaving patients at risk for surgical-site infections. The study examined 132 robotic and ordinary instruments over a 21-month period.

CDC updates toolkit on heater-cooler device risks with FAQ sheet

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued a Health Alert Notice to patients and hospitals regarding the risk of nontuberculous mycobacteria infections from Stöckert heater-cooler devices used during open-heart surgery. The CDC has updated its notification toolkit to include frequently asked questions for hospitals when notifying patients of risk from contaminated heater-cooler devices used during cardiac surgery.

HeartWare recalls ventricular assist device controllers due to loose connectors

HeartWare Inc. is recalling its HeartWare ventricular assist device controller due to a loose power connector that may cause the rear portion of the pump's driveline connector to become separated from the front portion of the driveline connector.

A loose connector may allow moisture to enter the controller, causing corrosion, electrical issues, reduced speaker volume and connection failures. If the speaker volume is decreased, the patient may not hear the alarm. If there is a loss of connection, the pump may stop, which could cause serious adverse health consequences, including death. The Food and Drug Administration has identified this as a Class I recall, the most serious type of recall.