Because of health care facilities management’s reactive nature, only a small group of individuals have taken a proactive stance on developing codes. As a result, new code requirements are continually placed on hospitals from outside entities, vendors, manufacturers and others.
To proactively change codes and drive them toward what is best for the health care field, hospitals and health care systems must encourage facilities management teams to attend each year’s National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Technical Meeting, which is held in conjunction with NFPA’s annual conference and expo.
Health care is the most regulated field other than the nuclear industry. Much of our time, money and resources are spent adhering to codes and regulations that are not bettering patient outcomes.
One example of how a code requirement should be revised is the monthly requirement to visually inspect fire extinguishers. Documented evidence from numerous hospitals across the nation indicates that monthly fire extinguishers produce less than a 0.02% failure rate. At approximately five minutes per extinguisher each month, this produces one hour of unproductive time each year per extinguisher. ASHE is working to get this requirement revised but, due to the impact on the fire extinguisher industry, it would not be surprising if it ended up as a vote at the 2021 NFPA Technical Session.
The 2019 NFPA Technical Meeting in San Antonio presented a perfect example of why health care entities must send representation. Out of all the attendees at the 2019 NFPA Technical Meeting, ASHE membership represented less than 5% of the voting attendance. Every vote that ended up in opposition to the Health Care Section’s stance was lost by at least 5 to 1.
ASHE encourages each member to speak with their administrators and explain how proactive code development is essential to avoiding situations where the health care field is underrepresented.
Benjamin Leutze is senior advocacy associate at ASHE.