The Joint Commission
Thursday 4:38 CST, February 11, 2016

Standards FAQ Details

Infection Prevention and Control (IC) (Ambulatory Health Care / Ambulatory Health Care)

Food And Drinks In Patient Care Areas
Revised | November 24, 2008
Q:  Are food and drinks for staff members allowed in patient care areas?

A:  The Joint Commission standards do not specifically address this issue.

However several other points apply:

  • Standard LD.04.01.01 requires compliance with applicable law and regulation. The OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard prohibits food and drink in areas where contamination is likely. For example, if lab specimens are handled in a work area, the OSHA standard would prohibit food and drinks if contamination might occur.
  • Under the same LD.04.01.01 standard, many states prohibit food and drink in clinical areas, requiring that they be consumed in break areas.
  • Many organizations have policies that prohibit this for infection control, risk management or even public appearance purposes. These are often established after conducting a risk assessment, as required in standard IC.01.03.01. Organizations must be in compliance with their own policies.
  • An Environment of Care risk assessment should be performed to address potential patient safety issues, per EC.02.01.01.
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