Nurse Server Cabinet Doors

Q:  We have wall mounted recessed cabinets in our corridors next to the patient room doors that have access doors on both the corridor side and the patient room side allowing staff to pass through supplies without having to open the patient room door. These cabinet doors have roller latches. Do they have to comply with the standard that prohibits roller latches on corridor doors?

A: Yes they do. The wall mounted cabinet that you described are often referred to as Nurse Server cabinets. They allow staff to stock the cabinets with supplies from the corridor side, without entering the patient room. A door is a door whether it serves a patient room, closet, mechanical shaft or a cabinet. If the door is mounted in the corridor wall, then it has to meet the requirements of section 19.3.6.3.2 of the 2000 edition of the Life Safety Code (LSC), which prohibits roller latches in non-fully sprinklered buildings. The Joint Commission, HFAP and CMS together banned roller latches on corridor doors in 2005, so they are not allowed in corridor doors under any condition. While 19.3.6.3.2 does allow an existing door to have a device to keep it closed when a force of 5 lbf is applied at the latch edge of the door, this is not allowed in new construction conditions. The Joint Commission has set a date of March 1, 2003 to determine what qualifies as existing construction and new construction, but this is not universally accepted by all authorities having jurisdiction (AHJ). CMS and HFAP set a similar date of March 11, 2003 for that distinction, but many other AHJs do not recognize a specific date to set a threshold of what has to qualify as new or existing construction. Many AHJs would require the existing nurse server door to meet new construction requirements at the time it was installed, and those conditions must be maintained for the life of the cabinet. Therefore, when the nurse server cabinet was installed, corridor doors would most likely require positive latching hardware (if installed since 1970) and the door must be maintained to that requirement. Another issue to look at is whether or not the nurse server door resists the passage of smoke, as required in 19.3.6.3.1. A cabinet style of door may not meet this requirement, while a millwork style of door and frame would. As always, check with your state and local authorities to see if they have more restrictive requirements.