An airborne infection isolation room shall be available for NICU
infants, and shall provide a minimum of 150 square feet (14 square
meters) of clear floor space, excluding the entry work area. A
hands-free handwashing station for hand hygiene and areas for
gowning and storage of clean and soiled materials shall be provided
near the entrance to the room. Ventilation systems for isolation
rooms shall be engineered to have negative air pressure with air
100% exhausted to the outside, and shall meet acoustic standards for
infant rooms (Standard 27). Airborne infection isolation room
perimeter walls, ceilings, and floors, including penetrations, shall
be sealed tightly so that air does not infiltrate the environment
from the outside or from other airspaces.
Airborne infection isolation rooms shall have self-closing
devices on all room exit doors. An emergency communication system
and remote patient monitoring capability shall be provided within
the airborne infection isolation room.
Airborne infection isolation rooms shall have observation windows
with internal blinds or switchable privacy (opaquing) glass for
privacy. Placement of windows and other structural items shall allow
for ease of operation and cleaning.
Airborne infection isolation rooms shall have a permanently
installed visual mechanism to constantly monitor the pressure status
of the room when occupied by a patient with an airborne infectious
disease. The mechanism shall continuously monitor the direction of
Interpretation: An airborne infection isolation
room adequately designed to care for ill newborns should be
available in any hospital with an NICU. In most cases, this is
ideally situated within the NICU, but in some circumstances,
utilization of an airborne infection isolation room elsewhere in the
hospital (e.g., in a pediatric ICU) would be suitable.
At least one single-occupancy isolation room should be available
for any infant with a suspected airborne infection. A space within
the NICU should also be available to safely cohort a group of
infants infected with or exposed to a common airborne pathogen.
When not used for isolation, these rooms may be used for care of
non-infectious infants and other clinical purposes.
Turbulence attendant to high air-exchange rates can result in
unacceptable levels of background noise in airborne infection
isolation rooms. Such levels result in speech interference,
annoyance, and physiologic responses typical of noise exposure for
adults and infants. Specific attention is required, therefore, to
the design of noise-attenuating devices in the
heating/ventilation/air-conditioning (HVAC) ductwork and to washable
acoustic surfaces on the walls and ceilings to ensure that sound
levels meet the Standard in these rooms. Glass partitions should be
limited to that which is actually necessary for safe visualization.
Proportional amounts of acoustically absorptive and acoustically
reflective surfaces should be appropriate to achieve greater than
25% sound absorption.