Air Flow and HVAC Issues

Room pressurization depends on the ability of air to build up within a room. Negative pressure is generated and maintained by a ventilation system that removes more exhaust air from the room than air is allowed into the room. Positive pressure is generated and maintained by a ventilation system that provides more supply air than air that is exhausted from the room.

Airflow and ventilation is tied to several Joint Commission standards. Standard EC.02.05.01 Element of Performance 15 requires that the ventilation system within areas designed to control airborne contaminants provides appropriate pressure relationships, air-exchange rates, and filtration efficiencies. In EC.02.06.01, Element of Performance 13, the Joint Commission requires that interior spaces meet the needs of the patient population and are safe and suitable to the care, treatment, and services provided.  The analysis of all 2014 Joint Commission findings for EC.02.06.01 EP 13 regarding airflow and humidity/temperature revealed the following:

Pressurization Relationship Findings

Inappropriate Humidity/Temperature Findings

Non-monitored Humidity/Temperature Findings

These findings clearly demonstrate that pressure relationship issues occur in utility rooms and also operating rooms (ORs), sterile storage areas, biohazard areas, and central services. The humidity and temperature issues in the ORs and central services (especially in the sterile storage areas with these areas) show the need for monitoring of humidity and temperature.  For additional information on this Focus on Compliance topic, visit the Inappropriate Room Pressurization web page.

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