Mar 05 2018

Med-Room Corridor Door

Category: BlogBKeyes @ 12:00 am

Q: As I understand the Life Safety Code, doors opening from a patient floor corridor into a patient room do not have to latch. I have a room next to a patient room that we call a support room. It contains meds, a sink and an ice machine and has to be secured. It is not a rated opening, has a closure and is secured with a mag lock and keypad and has two ways to egress when in the room. Is this a OK scenario?

A: No… that scenario is not correct. The room you described must have a door that separates it from the corridor, and the door must latch. Take a look at of the 2012 Life Safety Code that says corridors must be separated from all other areas by partitions unless otherwise permitted by one of the nine (9) exceptions. The med room is not one of the nine exceptions. Therefore, according to, the door must latch. You say it is equipped with a magnetic lock. Keep in mind a magnetic lock is not an acceptable substitute for a latch. If installed in accordance with section (access-control locks, having a motion sensor and a ‘Push to Exit’ button on the egress side), then the magnetic lock is permitted, but the door still needs to have a latch. CMS does not permit the allowance for existing doors to not have positive latching hardware provided a force of 5-lbs. is applied to the latch edge.

Whoever told you that patient room doors do not have to latch was wrong. Patient rooms are also required to be separated from the corridor according to, and have doors that must latch, according to

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May 02 2013

More on Dead-Bolt Locks

Category: BlogBKeyes @ 6:00 am

Dead-bolt lock on door Web 2If you search my website on door locks, you will find a few entries concerning dead-bolt locks. For decades hospitals seem to have installed dead-bolt locks on any door they wanted, without any concern for compliance with the Life Safety Code. That’s all changing now, as surveyors and inspectors are becoming better educated on where dead-bolt locks may be used.

The picture to the left shows a dead-bolt lock on a corridor door that is separated from and is not part of the latch-set. It is mounted approximately 12 inches above the latch-set handle and in order to egress through this door, an individual would have to make two releasing motions: 1). unlock the dead-bolt, and 2). turn the latch-set handle. Those two actions make this dead-bolt installation non-compliant with section of the 2000 edition of the LSC, which prohibits more than one releasing actions to operate the door.

Some people are quick to point out that dead-bolt locks installed as described above are approved for use on patient room doors in psychiatric units where ‘clinical needs’ locks are permitted. My reply would be, approved by who?  I am aware that Joint Commission has made an interpretation that permits their accredited organizations to have dead-bolt locks on psychiatric units, but that does not address the improper installation of them. Just because Joint Commission says you can have dead-bolt locks, does not mean you are permitted to install them incorrectly.

Hotel Door Latch & Lock Web 2The picture to the left shows a dead-bolt lock that is integrated (not separated) with the latch-set. This arrangement allows the retraction of the dead-bolt simply by turning the latch-set handle, and thereby complying with section with a single releasing motion to operate the door. [NOTE: NFPA Healthcare Interpretations Task Force has ruled that pulling or pushing is not considered a motion to operate the door.]

This would be an excellent solution for those situations where you wanted to have a dead-bolt lock installed on a door in the path of egress. This concept of latch-set & dead-bolt lock combined could be obtained in anti-ligature arrangement, and be used in a psychiatric unit.

But there are situations where a traditional dead-bolt lock could be used on a door in the path of egress in a healthcare occupancy. Where? How about in areas where the corridor door is not required to latch?

There are multiple locations in a hospital where doors that open onto a corridor are not required to latch: bathrooms, toilet rooms, shower rooms, and sink rooms that do not contain any combustibles. Also, how about the exterior doors in a Type I or Type II building? Those doors aren’t required to be fire rated, so there is no requirement for exterior doors to latch, either. [Now, most hospitals want their exterior doors to latch even if they aren’t required to, in order to keep the weather and the riff-raff out, but in some rare situations such as the main entrance consisting of sliding glass doors, latching may not be desired.]

Dead-bolt lock on corridor door Web 2The picture to the left shows a door with a dead-bolt lock, but there is no other releasing device mounted on this door, such as a latch-set. While this door would not be permitted in many locations in a hospital corridor because it does not latch, it would be permitted on doors to rooms that are not required to latch, according to (toilet rooms, bathrooms, shower rooms, and sink closet not containing combustibles). So a door in the path of egress with a dead-bolt lock and no latch-set on one of these limited rooms would still be compliant with section because there is only one releasing action to operate the door: turning the thumb-screw to unlock the door.

Dead-bolt locks that are installed on corridor doors that are required to latch in such a way that they are separated from the latch-set, are just big red flags to surveyors and inspectors. If the door requires two releasing actions to operate the door, then that’s a violation, and they are easy to find. Check out your facility… it may be possible that you have a deficiency that you are not aware.

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Jun 06 2012

Roller Latches

Category: BlogBKeyes @ 5:00 am

Roller latches…. Many of us already know that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) banned the use of roller latches in hospitals by March 13, 2006. So that would mean roller latches are not permitted anywhere in the hospital, right?

Well, that is not the entire truth. Actually, there are situations where roller latches are permitted in hospitals, and still comply with the CMS directive. If a door is equipped with roller latches and the door is an interior door inside a suite-of-rooms, and the door does not serve a fire rated opening (such as an exit stairwell, or hazardous room), then the door may have roller latches, since the door is not required to close and latch. Actually, there are no requirements for doors inside a suite of rooms (other than exits and hazardous rooms) so logically speaking, if there are doors, then they are not required to close and latch.

So now you may be thinking outside of a suite-of-rooms, roller latches would not be permitted, right? Well, actually, there is one more situation where roller latches would be permitted. Take a look at section in the 2000 edition of the LSC. This is the section that describes how a corridor door should be provided with a means to keep the door closed. Exception #1 allows doors to toilet rooms, bathrooms, shower rooms, and sink closets where combustibles are not stored to be exempt from the need to have a device to keep the door closed. Therefore, if these doors are not required to have a latching device, then roller latches would be permitted in this situation.

The reason why CMS banned roller latches from doors that are required to be kept closed (such as corridor doors) is the result of investigations of fires in hospitals. It is documented that many lives have been lost where hospital patients could not get up and walk out under their own power during a fire emergency, and they lay in bed and died from smoke inhalation. The doors to patient rooms were commonly provided with roller latches so staff could walk-in hands-free, without having to turn or twist a door knob. However, during a fire, the heat build-up in the corridor created pressure which over-came the latching force of a roller latch and the patient room doors popped open, allowing smoke to enter the room.

It probably is a good idea to eliminate all roller latches in your facility, but if you have roller latches in one of these two situations and a surveyor or inspector catches it, you might be able to explain away a citation if the door in question is not required to latch.