Q: Our hospital has a room that is used for seclusion in a Behavioral Health unit. The door to this room is locked and it does not allow the patient to leave the room; only staff may release the door lock. Is this in any way an Immediate Jeopardy situation?
A: Not necessarily… Section 126.96.36.199.5.1 of the 2012 Life Safety Code allows doors to be locked in the path of egress where the clinical needs of the patients require specialized security measures or where the patients pose a security threat, provided staff can unlock the doors at all times. Clinical needs locks are permitted for use for psychiatric patients, dementia patients, Alzheimer’s patients and substance abuse patients. A seclusion room in a Behavioral Health unit would likely meet the definition for clinical needs locks, provided staff was watching the patient 24 hours/day.