With the myriad codes, standards, guidelines and regulations affecting the physical environment of health care facilities today, it can be difficult to know how all of these work together and how to comply within a given facility.

The American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) has a long history of developing resources for optimizing the health care physical environment. Over the past 55 years, ASHE has created hundreds of monographs, checklists and tools, and held thousands of webinars, presentations and conference breakout sessions on code compliance.

ASHE’s history of developing helpful resources coupled with working closely with many standards development organizations led the organization to create a tool that would align major codes applicable to health care facilities with practical resources to help comply with various requirements expected of health care facilities across the nation.

This month, an ASHE task force has focused on ensuring that ASHE members are able to quickly find resources to assist when deficiencies within the physical environment have been discovered with the update of the Hospital Conditions of Participation/Accreditation Crosswalk.

This crosswalk provides a listing of the major health care requirements based on the Department of Health & Human Services’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) 2012 Life Safety Code Healthcare Fire Safety Survey Report — commonly known as the CMS K-Tags.

The crosswalk can be used in many ways. An example of how it can be used regarding a question about anesthetizing locations, temperature and humidity requirements would be as follows: A search of the crosswalk would discover that the requirements for anesthetizing locations are addressed by K-Tag K 323.

The CMS language column provides the exact K-Tag language and is followed by columns that show associated standard or code references from various organizations. The Joint Commission Element of Performance, National Fire Protection Association and International Code Council reference columns show the associated standard or code reference that covers this issue.

The resource column provides the ASHE resources available to help with this issue, most of which are linked within the crosswalk for easy access. For K-Tag K 323, there are six different resources that are linked, one of which is the ASHE Advocacy Alert on operating room humidity, temperature and ventilation requirements. The resource links to the interim guidance provided by the joint task force that worked to align the temperature and humidity requirements in operating rooms and sterile processing departments.

Ensuring an optimized and compliant health care physical environment is a strategic investment that directly impacts patient care, safety, efficiency and costs.

Visit www.ashe.org/tools for this and other resources.