Holiday Decorations Can Cost a Lot If They Come With a Citation

By A.J. Plunkett

Careful with those holiday decorations. They can bring joy, but too much joy can also bring a citation from CMS,  accrediting organizations or the fire marshal’s office.

A hospital in Kansas was cited by CMS in 2020 was cited under K-0753, the CMS K-tag for such festive adornments, for failing “to provide corridors safe from excessive combustible decorations” after a lab supply closet was spotted “completely covered with combustible decorations.”

Doors are often a target of surveyors, especially if the decorations somehow also prevent the door from closing properly as a smoke and fire barrier.

Surveyors also worry about the means of egress. The same CMS survey report said, “excessive combustible decorations can provide additional fuels that can ignite in the event of a fire in escape pathways.”

Other concerns are lights that may overheat or ignite decorations, windows covered by decorations that block line-of-sight for egress, and trip hazards.

And don’t think this is just the occasional problem. A check of CMS’ Quality, Certification and Oversight Reports (QCOR) database highlighting the most severe problems found at hospitals showed that dozens of facilities were cited under K-0753 for each year from 2010 (when the database records begin), through 2020.

However, it should be noted that QCOR did not record any K-0753 citations for 2021 and 2022. Which coincidentally is when the COVID-19 pandemic continued to burn through patients and hospital staff nationwide.

Could it be that much like the Grinch, CMS has a heart?

A.J. Plunkett is editor of Inside Accreditation & Quality, an HCPro publication.