Staff Food and Drink in Patient Care Areas

Are food, drink, and personal items for staff members allowed in patient care and staff work areas, such as nurse stations, registration areas, etc?

The Joint Commission has no standard that specifically addresses staff food or drink in patient care or staff work areas, to include nurse stations.  Compliance with local or state authority is required, if applicable, per standard LD.04.01.01. For example, a number of states prohibit staff food and drink in clinical areas, requiring that they be consumed in break areas. 

OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard prohibits food and drink in areas where contamination is likely. For example, if laboratory specimens are handled in area in question, the OSHA standard would prohibit food and drinks  as contamination might occur. Standard EC.02.01.01 requires the organization is to establish a practice based upon assessment of their particular circumstances and any controlling authority requirement.

The environmental risk assessment process should consider issues like infection control (see IC.01.03.01), aesthetics, clutter, image, etc. The organization's state and local health departments may also have a specific position on this issue. The survey process will validate that the organization is complying with their established policy through tracer activity. [EC.02.01.01]  Based on the outcome of the risk assessment, each organization is responsible for defining which areas are considered ‘patient care’ and ‘staff work areas’ to which their policies apply.
Last updated on March 27, 2019
Manual: Hospital and Hospital Clinics
Chapter: Environment of Care EC

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