How long can you expect a retaining wall or other land improvements to your site to last? What about a new fire protection system or boiler? Or, how about major movable equipment for nursing, administration or other departments?

The answer to these and hundreds of hospital capital planning questions can be found in the Estimated Useful Lives of Depreciable Hospital Assets, revised 2013 edition. The new American Hospital Association (AHA) book is a reference guide for predicting the productive years of typical capital assets before they become obsolete or need to be replaced.

Because every capital asset has a limited useful service life, it must be determined and recorded to manage the capital planning process, as well as to make appropriate life assignments in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services-mandated Medicare cost reports.

Estimates in the guide were determined by a consensus of experienced representatives from leading appraisal companies and respected hospitals and health care systems that are familiar with the most common types of health care capital purchases. Each estimate is based on the most prevalent condition of service for an asset.

The 2013 edition introduces more than 80 new technology and other asset categories in an effort to stay current with recent developments. The asset categories and their associated useful lives are organized into nine tables according to common ledger categories. The edition also includes an overview of the importance of the capital planning process, offers tips on managing capital projects and explains the importance of record-keeping functions for tracking assets throughout their productive lives.

The book can be ordered from AHA Services Inc. (, 800-242-2626) for $86 (plus $13.95 for shipping and handling); AHA members can buy the book for $69, plus $11.95 for shipping and handling. The data can be licensed for company product and service databases or websites by contacting Tim Carlson at 312-893-6816 or