The Joint Commission has come and gone from HUP -- and we have once again done well in our survey –but one deficiency cited in Life Safety warrants significant attention: clutter in the corridors.

What is Corridor Clutter?

Corridor clutter remains one of the Joint Commissions’ top cited standards. Indeed, over 45 percent of hospitals receive an “Insufficient Compliance” rating related to storage in the corridor. 

Clutter is any item that creates an obstruction in a corridor or exit path. The Life Safety code and Joint Commission require that “all exit paths must remain free of obstructions, including unattended items that are not considered in use by staff members.” In other words, any item not in use or unattended for more than 30 minutes -- or blocking the egress -- can be considered clutter.

Why is this so important? In fire and other emergency scenarios, it may become necessary to relocate or evacuate patients, often in reduced visibility. On first appearance, corridors seem to have ample space for many items that help support patient care: equipment, supply carts, food carts, empty beds, etc. 

However, a bed with accompanying monitors, pumps and portable oxygen, along with medical personnel, requires significant width to accomplish an evacuation.  Hospital corridors are designed to provide enough width for such relocations but not with items in the way.

What are Your Responsibilities?

Every employee in Penn Medicine's hospitals is expected to act responsibly regarding placement and use of items within corridors.  All items in corridors must be on wheels and easily moveable. Items that remain unattended for greater than 30 minutes must be stored either in an alcove or a room out of the corridor.  With the exception of crash carts and isolation carts, storage in corridors is prohibited. 

To keep the hospital corridors free of obstructions:

  • Items in a hallway waiting for direct patient use within 30 minutes should all be placed to one side of the corridor, against the wall.
  • Do not allow items to block stair tower doors, extinguisher cabinets or cross automatic smoke or fire doors. 
  • In the event of an emergency requiring evacuation, move items out of the corridors and into unoccupied rooms or behind the nurse stations to allow unobstructed egress.
If you have questions on storage or items in the corridor at HUP, please contact the George Hettenbach or Jim Connell in the HUP Safety Office at 215-662-3630.  At PPMC, call Joe Szymanski in the PPMC Safety Office at 215-662-8631.

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