I hear this question frequently. For a better understanding of how to answer this question, we must first discuss CMS. CMS stands for Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. It is part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and administers Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Healthcare facilities participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs must be compliant with basic life safety from fire requirements in the NFPA Life Safety Code (LSC). The edition of the Life Safety Code that CMS follows ultimately determines the edition of the NFPA 99 we must comply with.
Currently CMS adheres to the 2000 edition of NFPA 101 Life Safety Code. Since the 2000 NFPA 101 LSC references the NFPA 99 Standard for Healthcare Facilities, we know we must comply with the most recent edition with regard to the 2000 LSC. Presently that would be 1999.
When a plumbing engineer is designing a medical-gas system for a renovation or new facility, it is in his best interest to identify which edition of NFPA 99 they are designing to, so the specifications for that project reflect that edition. Typically, engineers will specify that they are complying with the latest edition of NFPA 99, since, historically, the latest edition is usually more stringent than earlier editions. Manufacturers of medical-gas systems also tend to design and manufacture to the latest edition. It seems easy enough… right? Not so.
Existing facilities do not follow the latest edition, nor are they required to adhere to the latest edition each time one is published (typically every 3 years). Many people get caught up in the strict compliance with current NFPA 99 editions— while the fact is no regulatory agencies are actually using them! The code mandates that if facility managers do a renovation, they must be required to bring that portion of the system up to current code requirements— which, as of now, is the 1999 edition NFPA 99.
The 2015 edition of NFPA 99 is the current standard, but that doesn’t mean we will be adhering to it anytime soon. When CMS decides to adopt the 2012 edition of the 101 Life Safety Code it will automatically reference the 2012 edition of NFPA 99. There has been discussion about CMS adopting the 2012 edition of 101 sometime in 2016— but that still remains to be seen.
Scales Medical Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Scales Industrial Technologies, Inc., offers a wide variety of medical gas solutions for hospitals, laboratories, nursing homes, ambulatory surgical centers, medical offices and dental offices.For 50 years, Scales remains the acknowledged leader in the design, installation, sale, and service of complete industrial compressed air solutions and advanced industrial technologies that work to reduce energy costs while increasing productivity, reliability and profitability.