Facility managers and others in­volved with the health care physical environment routinely stumble upon frustrating instances of conflicting, overly expensive or unnecessary code requirements. But conveying the problems with today's codes and standards — and explaining why it's so important to streamline these complex requirements — sometimes can be difficult.

ASHE has created the ASHE Advocacy Report to explain in laymen's terms some of the codes and standards issues that hospitals and health care facilities face. The report is useful for hospital CEOs, lawmakers and other leaders who may play a role in creating codes and standards or who can help advocate for change.

ASHE Director of Codes and Standards Chad Beebe, AIA, SASHE, says codes and standards are critical to keeping hospital patients, staff and visitors safe. But codes and standards can conflict with each other, and many hospitals are required to comply with outdated codes. Facilities also run into problems when codes aren't based on current science or when unclear codes are poorly interpreted. Beebe says advocacy efforts are important to create high-quality codes that keep people safe without wasting resources.

"We've plateaued at a level of safety where adding more regulations doesn't necessarily improve patient safety," Beebe says. "In fact, wasting money on unnecessary regulations uses resources that could otherwise improve patient care."

The ASHE Advocacy Report includes articles about the four major problems with today's codes and standards — conflicting codes, outdated codes, codes not based on science and poorly interpreted codes. Other articles highlight the history of codes regulating health care and show how health care facilities are required to comply with rules and regulations from a huge number of agencies and organizations.

Perhaps the most important information included in the report is how various people — including lawmakers, code officials, health care administrators and ASHE members — can get involved in ASHE's quest for responsible regulation of health care facilities.

For example, ASHE members can read the ASHE Insider electronic newsletter and Web-based Inside ASHE magazine to learn about public comment periods and other stages in the code development process. They also can talk with their local ASHE chapter's advocacy liaison for more ways to get involved with advocacy.

Building officials can learn more about how hospitals are regulated by reading the ASHE Advocacy Report and speaking with local facility officials. Additionally, hospital administrators can encourage their facility managers to become involved with advocacy efforts and support those professionals who take a lead in advocacy work.

The ASHE Advocacy Report can be accessed online at www.ashe.org/resources/pdfs/ASHE_Advocacy_Report_2012.pdf.

This month's column was written by Deanna Martin, senior communications specialist for ASHE.


ASHE redesigns website and launches new blog

ASHE has redesigned its website to help keep members up-to-date about zissues affecting the health care physical environment. The ASHE website (www.ashe.org) now features a rotating carousel of news that members can use to quickly find information they need. The website also includes quick links to popular industry resources. Additionally, ASHE has launched a blog (www.ashe.org/blog) where members can read about new developments and post comments to discuss important issues.

ASHE urges members to comment on Guidelines

The Facility Guidelines Institute (FGI) is accepting public comments for the nationally accepted Guidelines for Design and Construction of Health Care Facilities, which outlines minimum recommendations for health facility new construction and renovation. Among the changes proposed for the 2014 edition of the Guidelines are several new risk assessments, updated commissioning guidance, staff nap rooms in hospitals, and medication safety zones. The public comment period for the FGI Guidelines runs through Nov. 22 and ASHE is urging its members to take part. For more information, visit the FGI website at www.fgiguidelines.org