On November 3, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced a proposed rule to update Medicare fire protection guidelines for certain dialysis facilities. Comments are due by 5 p.m. on December 4.

The new proposed guidelines apply to all dialysis facilities that do not provide one or more exits at grade level from the treatment area level. CMS said that dialysis facilities that provide exits to the outside at grade level would continue to be required to follow state and local fire codes, which the agency believes provide for sufficient patient protection in the event of an emergency.

Some of the main requirements laid out in this proposed rule include:

  • Doors to hazardous areas must be self-closing or must close automatically.
  • Alcohol based hand rub dispensers now may be placed in corridors to allow for easier access.
  • A fire watch or building evacuation is required if the sprinkler system is out of service for more than 10 hours.

This rule adopts, for certain dialysis facilities, updated provisions of the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) 2012 edition of the Life Safety Code (LSC), as well as provisions of the NFPA’s 2012 edition of the Health Care Facilities Code in order to bring CMS’ requirements more up to date with today’s fire safety standards, CMS said. The LSC is a compilation of fire safety requirements for new and existing buildings, and is updated every three years.

Currently, CMS is using the 2000 edition of the LSC to survey dialysis facilities for health and safety compliance. With this proposed rule, CMS is adopting provisions of the 2012 edition of the LSC and provisions of the 2012 edition of the Health Care Facilities Code, to bring CMS’ requirements more up to date, and align dialysis facility fire safety requirements with the codes CMS uses to survey other health care facilities.