You’ve probably heard the old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The idea is to act early to save yourself trouble down the road.

The phrase applies to advocacy efforts, too. All of us who work in the health care physical environment understand that codes and standards are intended to keep our patients safe. But we tend to find significant challenges when codes conflict, are not necessary or when they become outdated.

To improve our codes, we all need to get involved — and get involved early. It is much easier to help shape code requirements when they are being considered than to change them once they are published and widely adopted.

So how do you get involved? Through the American Society for Health Care Engineering (ASHE)! Being an ASHE member makes it easier to stay on top of the latest code proposals and to help make a difference in the health care community. One of the main reasons I became involved with ASHE more than 20 years ago was to contribute to advocacy efforts. You can help our advocacy efforts by working with your local ASHE chapter and with the local advocacy liaison. You can also find volunteer opportunities on the My ASHE online community.

One very simple (yet powerful) way to help is to respond when ASHE issues a call for public comments. ASHE sends advocacy alerts to members when public comments are needed to influence important code proposals. The next time you see an advocacy alert in your email inbox, take a few moments to submit your thoughts. We need the code development organizations to understand our stories and experiences, to see firsthand how a proposed regulation would impact our hospital or health system.

I know that we are all busy with our day-to-day responsibilities, but the codes and standards regulating our facilities are important for our organizations, our patients and the future of health care in America. If we put a little effort into shaping the regulations that impact our operations and facilities before they become code, we will save ourselves hundreds of hours of work and our organizations millions of dollars.

By Dean M. Pufahl, CHFM, CHC, ASHE President