by Bob Armbrister, on Oct 1, 2012 12:00:00 AM
Q: Our Risk Management Department has conducted an assessment of our waiting areas in our hospital. They are stating that staff should be able to see all patrons who are waiting in lobbies and corridors. If they cannot, then mirrors or cameras should be installed allowing staff to monitor their behavior. I'm guessing their concern is for an individual passing out in the waiting area. Is there a code requirement for staff observation or cameras?
A: It depends on the circumstances. Waiting areas that are open to the exit access corridor are required to meet criteria found under section 220.127.116.11 in the 2000 edition of the Life Safety Code (LSC). This criteria includes, among other things, either direct supervision by a staff member or smoke detection in the open areas. Depending on the Accreditation Organization (AO) that you have, and your local and state authorities, direct supervision may be interpreted to mean staff in attendance to observe the waiting area, or a closed circuit television system which is monitored by another individual. The code at this point does not say ‘constant supervision’ which implies the supervision by the staff must remain constant. Direct supervision implies observation of the open areas is not constant. As far as meeting the code requirements, it seems to me that the addition of smoke detectors would far outweigh the cost of having staff observing the open areas. As always, please check with your local or state authorities to see if they have other requirements.