New Building Standards Keep your Medical Facilities in Good Health

By: RK Mechanical

Hospital construction requires perfection from conception to completion. To ensure safety, healthcare building design is governed by codes, standards and regulations.

The most recent change in healthcare building standards was to the NFPA 99: Health Care Facilities Code. This code establishes criteria for healthcare systems or services based on the risk to the staff, patients or visitors in healthcare facilities in order to minimize the hazards of fire, explosion and electricity. This code applies to all healthcare facilities other than home care. It’s intended for professionals involved in the design, construction, inspection and maintenance of healthcare facilities, as well as to the design, manufacture, and testing of equipment and appliances used in patient rooms within healthcare facilities.

This latest edition, 2012 NFPA 99, presents significant changes for the first time since 2005. It has undergone a complete restructuring from prior editions and is now a risk-based code document instead of a facility-based document. The occupancy-based approach was replaced by a categorization of each healthcare facility system regarding its risk to patients’ welfare. Earlier requirements have been removed and replaced by a focus on risk instead of occupancy. New chapters have been introduced for IT and communication systems, HVAC, plumbing, security, emergency management and features of fire protection unique to healthcare facilities.

NFPA 99: Health Care Facilities Code guides users to first determine the level of system category contingent upon the risks to the patients and caregivers within the facilities. The system categories are determined by following a defined risk assessment procedure. Depending on these results, and the system category classification of the healthcare facility, the minimum criteria for gas vacuum, gas equipment, gas electrical system, electrical systems and equipment, plumbing, HVAC, IT and communication systems, emergency management, security management and fire protection features are then determined.

RK Mechanical has worked on several major healthcare facilities both locally and nationally. We understand the complex requirements and have the experience to keep your staff and patients safe­—and your facility operational.

Looking to build or renovate a healthcare facility? RK Mechanical would be happy to discuss our services with you. Contact RK Mechanical at for more information.

Sources:, NFPA 99: Health care facilities code overview, NFPA 99: Health Care Facilities Code