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Top Joint Commission Citations: Corridor Clutter, Door Wedges

Scott Wallask, for HealthLeaders Media, January 14, 2010

The Joint Commission's focus on Life Safety Code® compliance doesn't look to be subsiding, as evidenced by fire safety provisions topping the latest list of most-cited standards in hospitals.

However, there are some simple strategies CEOs can ask their safety committees or facilities departments to look into that may help hospitals stay in better compliance.

During surveys in the first half of 2009, the top-cited standard was LS.02.01.20 (45% of hospitals receiving citations), according to the November 2009 Joint Commission Perspectives. That standard requires you to properly maintain egress routes.

Although The Joint Commission doesn't specify what concerns under LS.02.01.20 were the most troublesome, one of the likely culprits is corridor clutter, said Steven MacArthur, safety consultant for The Greeley Company, a division of HCPro, Inc., in Marblehead, MA.

Watch for items obstructing corridors

Corridor exit paths must be free of obstructions, including unattended items that are not considered in use. This issue nags hospitals across the country.

CEOs should find out how often staff members on units are educated about corridor storage rules. Generally, wheeled items can only remain unattended in corridors for up to 30 minutes before surveyors will consider them in storage. There are two notable exceptions:

  • Crash carts can remain in corridors at all times because they must be available for immediate emergency use.

  • Isolation carts can stay in corridors outside of active isolation patient rooms at all times (once the room is empty, the cart must be relocated), which is an important provision during the H1N1 swine flu pandemic.

CEOs should also have their safety professionals verify whether fire response plans spell out where to relocate wheeled items when a fire alarm is activated, as corridors may need to be cleared for evacuations or incoming firefighters, said Thomas Salamone, director of environment of care and regulatory compliance at AKF Group, LLC, in Yonkers, NY.

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