Focus: Fire-Life Safety / Column

Q&A: ER department corridors

By Brad Keyes / Special to Healthcare Facilities Today
May 3, 2017

Q: In a hospital emergency department, can the corridors be six feet wide? Can the hospital install an 18-inch-deep lockable computer cabinet in the 8-foot ED corridor?

A: No… unfortunately you can’t. Most AHJs would allow this but one major AHJ will not.

If you claim the ER is a suite, then there would be no problem with a cabinet in the 8-foot wide hallway…. Because there are no corridors in a suite. What looks like a corridor in a suite is a communicating space and you would only have to maintain 36 inches of clearance for aisles.

But if the ER is not a suite, then you must maintain corridor widths. If you can classify the ER as an ambulatory healthcare occupancy, then the corridor width is 44 inches and placing a cabinet in the corridor would be permitted as long as you maintained 44 inches of clear width.  But I have been told by CMS that they will not allow an ER to be classified as an ambulatory healthcare occupancy because they believe ERs provide sleeping arrangements for patients under a 24-hour watch. Ugh. I find that hard to accept but I’m not the AHJ.

So, CMS would have you classify all ERs as healthcare occupancies which would then require a clear 8-foot-wide corridor because of the sleeping arrangements (if it was not a suite). I don’t agree with this interpretation by CMS. I would think you could say there are no inpatients in the ER but CMS doesn’t see it that way. You have to follow the most restrictive requirement and CMS’ interpretation is by far, the most restrictive interpretation.

Brad Keyes, CHSP, is the owner of KEYES Life Safety Compliance, and his expertise is in the management of the Life Safety Program, including the Environment of Care and Emergency Management programs.



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