"Propping Open Fire Doors Compromises everyone's..."

About: The Great Western Hospital

The standards of care at this hospital in the Maternity services department are second to none. We had our first child at the Great Western in difficult circumstances and have chosen to have our second child here as a result. However during an ad hoc check up during the evening, I noticed that both of the doors to the consulting rooms in the delivery ward were propped open with bins, despite the doors both being clearly labelled 'Fire Door Keep Shut'. I did briefly mention to the nurse that the doors should not be propped open as they are fire doors. At the end of our visit the door was promptly propped open using the bin indicating that this is is routine and regular practice. Fire doors (of the type deployed) provide two hours barrier protection in the event of a fire. They are there for a reason to stop the spread of fire and protect people to enable safe and efficient emergency evacuation. They are usually placed strategically and to prop them open compromises the safe working conditions for patients and staff. It is also against fire regulations and therefore the law. I was able to observe some aspects which might help explain why the doors are being propped open and can outline some recommendations to return the building to a safe operating state.The ventilation system is noisey which is due to close proximity of supply fans to the diffuser - this results in concentrated blasts of treated air may affect the temperature in the room, potentially encouraging people to open the doors, or the windows (as was suggested by the attending nurse). The unit is short staffed, which may encourage the doors to the consulting rooms to be propped open to allow staff to monitor whether the room is occupied and/or needs cleaning between patients (as it did on the occassion we visited). The bins are located in close proximity to the doors, providing a convenient means to prop the door open. Everyone working in the ward seems comfortable with the practice. The adjacent room's door remained propped open, until it was occupied. Three different individuals passed through our room, past the adjacent room. I recommend: 1)Hold a short team brief before each shift for a week, where staff are reminded about the purpose of fire doors and the importance of keeping them closed. Also remind staff that it is everyone's responsibility to close the doors. 2) Move the bins (or other suitable means) away from the doors within the consulting rooms. This will make it more difficult to use them to prop open the doors (people will only do this if it is convenient - make it inconvenient). 3) Designate one member of staff each shift to check the consulting rooms on a regular basis and make sure they are clean for arriving patients to be seen. This will stop the door being left open for monitoring. 4) Investigate the ventilation system to see if it can be re-balanced. This may removing any potential issues from temperature regulation and remove the need to open doors to ventilate.

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