MEDICARE ADOPTS UPDATED FIRE SAFETY CODE FOR INPATIENT FACILITIES
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced today it is adopting an updated fire safety code for inpatient facilities that care for Medicare beneficiaries, easing a regulatory burden for health care providers and ensuring the health and safety of patients and staff.
A final rule that went on display today at the Office of the Federal Register adopts the 2000 edition of the National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) Life Safety Code (LSC) for hospitals, long-term care facilities, intermediate care facilities for the mentally retarded, ambulatory surgery centers, hospices that provide inpatient services, religious non-medical health care institutions, critical access hospitals, and Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly facilities.
"This update will benefit Medicare beneficiaries and the facilities that provide their inpatient care," said CMS Administrator Tom Scully. "Our old rule was out of date and was creating confusion and additional work and expense without any gain in fire safety."
The LSC is a compilation of fire safety requirements for new and existing buildings and is updated and published every three years by NFPA, a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing loss of life due to fire. Medicare and Medicaid regulations have historically incorporated by reference the NFPA's LSC requirements.
The new rule continues to allow waivers to be granted on a case-by-case basis if specific provisions of the LSC would result in unreasonable hardship on the provider, and if the safety of the patients would not be compromised. CMS may also accept a state's fire and safety code instead of the LSC if the state's fire and safety code is imposed by state law and adequately protects patients.
"Updating the LSC not only alleviates confusion, burden and expense for health care providers, but assists in ensuring the health and safety of patients and staff because the facility will be using the most current fire safety technology," Scully said.
This final rule will be published in the Federal Register January 10, 2003.