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Book Review: Surgery Center Safety

Ambulatory Surgery Center Safety Guidebook: Managing Code Requirements for Fire and Life Safety. By Dale Lyman. ​Butterworth-Heinemann;; 76 pages; $69.95.

Between 2006 and 2010, an average of 6,240 fires occurred in U.S. medical facilities each year, resulting in deaths, injuries, and more than $50 million in direct property damage, reports the author of Ambulatory Surgery Center Safety Guidebook: Managing Code Requirements for Fire and Life Safety.

The book offers substantial information regarding the many fire and life safety code requirements and risks associated with inhabitant surgical equipment, patients, and employees in an ambulatory surgery center (ASC). Author Dale Lyman advises that the intention is not to provide specific code interpretations or explanations, but to build an understanding of what inspectors look for when conducting monthly or annual checks of an ASC and fire and life safety equipment, safeguards, and protocols.

Although informative, the book’s tone and pace are dry and systematic, relying more on bland statistics and codes than real-life practical examples in crisis or life safety situations. One interesting tool, a Twelve-Month Calendar Framework, provides the reader with a monthly checklist for the ASC administration to use as a guide to focus on certain fire and life safety protocol, such as Means of Egress for one month and Medical Gas Systems another month.

The author shares his wealth of knowledge in the fire and life safety arena; however, the book lacks lively vernacular. ASCs are diverse and fast-paced environments that must be kept up to code and in compliance with state and federal fire regulations. The book would benefit from the inclusion of real-world experiences and situations where an ASC encountered a fire or explosion. The reader would be able to see what was done in the moment to evacuate the inhabitants safely as well as how the business continuity plan worked. Fire and life safety professionals will find this book short and informative; however, security professionals are more likely to reference its content in the event of litigation.

Reviewer: Matthew Porcelli, CPP, has been in private security since 2009. He sits on four ASIS councils: the Young Professionals Council, the Cultural Properties Council, the Crime Prevention Council, and the Global Terrorism, Political Instability, and International Crime Council.