Updated LTC safety rules are on the way

Two new rules that would update fire safety and emergency preparedness standards for healthcare facilities arrived at the White House's Office of Management and Budget for review in November.

The rules would amend safety requirements for any healthcare facility that receives Medicare or Medicaid funding. Entities covered by the rules include long-term care facilities, inpatient hospices and programs of all-inclusive care for the elderly (PACE) operations.

The emergency preparedness rule would require facilities to have plans in place for both natural and manmade disasters that align with Federal, State, regional and local emergency systems. 

The rule was proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services in 2013, spurred by deaths in hospitals and nursing homes following Hurricane Katrina.

The second rule under review by the OMB would update fire safety guidelines for healthcare facilities in accordance with the National Fire Protection Association's 2012 Life Safety Code, including allowing “combustible décor” treated with flame retardant to be hung from walls and doors.