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Residential Substance Abuse Treatment & Life Safety Code

By: Valery Bond, RHIT

Did you know as a residential addiction substance abuse treatment provider, your facility must know what is, and what is not, above your ceiling tiles?  Does your facility have a “No Smoking” sign at the main entrance?  Do you know which way the doors are supposed to close?  Want to grow your business?  Plan on expanding?  You will need an ILSM (Interim Life Safety Measure) completed; and, the ILSM must include an infection control acknowledgment.

The Bottom Line About ILSM for Substance Abuse Treatment

In simplicity, buildings serving patients must comply with the NFPA 101 (2012 edition) Life Safety Code.  Has your substance abuse treatment organization identified a Safety Officer?  Has the Safety Officer identified Life Safety Code problems?  If your answer is “No” to these two basic questions, it may be time for your practice to implement a Life Safety program.

Known as “Minimum Fire Safety Standards for Residential Alcohol and Drug Abuse Treatment and Prevention Programs, mental Health Residential Treatment Facilities and Crisis Stabilization Units”, this rule chapter must be applied and adhered to in all 24 hour, 7 day per week healthcare facilities, just like a traditional hospital.

New, start-up healthcare businesses looking to obtain licensure for substance abuse treatment facilities must complete the entire application process to hopefully, first, be issued a probationary license through Florida’s Department of Children and Families.  Accreditation through agencies such as The Joint Commission requires standards be put in place, and maintained, and may identify an organization as having achieved the “Gold Seal of Approval”.  Having achieved accreditation changes the dynamics of licensure, and most certainly, identifies the substance abuse treatment provider for quality care, as well as safety in treatment and services provided.

Adherence to the Life Safety codes is not only required by accrediting agencies, but it is also mandated by the Florida Administrative Code 69A-44 and applies as a minimum, as a statewide standard in residential substance abuse treatment facilities for alcohol and for drug abuse and prevention programs.