Saying it is one of the most important and timely events NFPA is involved with this year, NFPA President Jim Shannon opened National Trends in Delivery of Health and Long Term Care: Implications for Safety Codes and Standards Summit in Baltimore July 21. Sponsored by the Fire Protection Research Foundation, the summit brought together over 100 people to discuss the most pressing issues in health care and how those issues relate to NFPA Codes and Standards. Shannon explained that NFPA has a long history in health care when it comes to codes. The Building Exits Code, the predecessor to the Life Safety Code was changed in the 1920’s to include special provisions for “institutional” occupancies. That code as it evolved into the Life Safety Code, along with NFPA 99 and other NFPA documents, is crucial to our health care system. “We are relied upon by enforcement officials and the public because our system of code development has stood the test of time. As technology has developed and society has changed we have always met the need. But we have only been able to do that because we have attracted the right people to participate in the NFPA process,” he said. The summit was put together to bring together a group of people to discuss many of the issues confronting today’s health care system. “We are not here to discuss in great specificity, as we would in the standards development process, technical changes to documents. We want to look at the trends from a broader perspective, said Shannon. He identified some key questions that will be topics of discussion.
- The cultural change taking place in long term care facilities and how to make sure the codes and standards respond quickly and appropriately to the “at home” environments that are becoming more prevalent as alternatives to “institutional” environments.
- The 2012 edition of NFPA 99 will see a major restructuring including several new requirements. How to ensure that all the major stakeholders are up to speed on these changes as the new edition is rolled out.
- What needs to be done to make sure that NFPA Codes and Standards respond to the growing popularity of home health care. Ventilators and respirators are far more common in homes today than they were ten or fifteen years ago. These are all positive developments but they all raise new safety concern.
- The proliferation of Outpatient/Office Surgical Centers has been a great way of simplifying surgical procedures for patients and cutting costs but they present new situations especially when they are located in office buildings and shopping malls and that requires a more detailed code analysis.
- New medical technologies impact hospital design. There is far more portable equipment on patient sleeping floors, often in the corridors. These changes have profound implications for corridor width, storage and other work spaces. What does that mean for codes now and into the future?