Nursing Homes Required to Have Automatic Fire Sprinkler Systems Within Five Years

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced that all nursing homes will be required to have automatic fire sprinklers by 2013.  Newer nursing homes typically have sprinkler systems, but many older homes do not.  Overall, the government estimates that about one out of every 11 nursing homes does not have a sprinkler system.  To comply with the new regulations, nursing homes will need to have sprinkler coverage in patients' rooms, kitchens, dining areas, hallways, offices, and other areas of these facilities.  

The push to require fire sprinklers in all nursing homes started shortly after after 31 patients died in nursing home fires in Hartford, Connecticut and Nashville, Tennessee.  Federal regulations did not require nursing homes to have automatic sprinklers, and fires broke out at both facilities at night when fewer staff was present.  The Government Accountability Office recommended in 2004 that federal health officials consider requiring fire sprinklers in all nursing homes.  Read more about new regulations for sprinklers in nursing homes.  

This measure is long overdue!  Of course, the nursing home industry is whining and moaning about the anticipated cost of outfitting facilities with sprinklers.  They never mention, of course, the dramatic cost savings that result from less expensive insurance premiums for property and casualty coverage, enhanced family and staff confidence, and simple patient safety.  I'll bet the very same industry representatives that complain about the expense of sprinkler systems in nursing homes are sitting in corporate offices with sprinkler coverage.
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Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia    

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