The 2014 Edition of the Guidelines for Design and Construction of Hospitals and Outpatient Facilities has been released by the Facility Guidelines Institute (FGI). For the first time it is published in two separate volumes, one for hospitals and the other for long-term care facilities.
This document is considered by many to create the “Standard of Care” for designing any kind of healthcare facility. Some states have adopted it as law and many states write their own requirements based on this document. Courts frequently refer to it in determining the appropriateness of design characteristics that may have been instrumental in an incident that resulted in a lawsuit. I always advise clients to follow the standards of this document, even if it is not required in their location. Doing so, in my opinion, shows that an appropriate level of care was exercised in the design of the facility.
One of the significant changes to this edition is the addition of language requiring “Safety Risk Assessments” (SRA). An SRA is defined as, “a multidisciplinary, documented assessment process intended to proactively identify and mitigate hazards and risks in the health care built environment that could directly or indirectly contribute to harm to patients, staff, or visitors”. The Center for Health Design has a task force working on developing a comprehensive SRA. This process is near the midpoint of a three year process. One element of this is the Psychiatric Injury/Behavioral Health Workgroup (of which I am privileged to be a member) that is focusing on the unique issues involved in the design of behavioral health facilities.