State regulation of hospital water temperature

Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 1993 Nov;14(11):642-5. doi: 10.1086/646657.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine current regulations and policies in the United States concerning maximal water temperatures in acute care hospitals.

Design: A standardized questionnaire administered by telephone to health department officials from 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Setting: State Health Departments in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Results: All states responded to the survey. Respondents from 39 states (77%) reported regulating maximum allowable hospital water temperature at a mean of 116 degrees F (median, 120 degrees F; mode 110 degrees F; range, 110 degrees F to 129 degrees F). Twelve states (23%) have no regulations for maximum water temperature. Of the 39 states regulating maximum water temperature, 30 (77%) routinely monitor hospital compliance. Nine states (23%) conduct inspections only in response to a complaint or incident.

Conclusions: There is great variation among the states with respect to the existence, enforcement, and specific regulations controlling hospital water temperature. Risk-benefit and cost-effectiveness analyses would help to assess the risk of scald injuries at water temperatures that will inhibit microbial contamination.

MeSH terms

  • Burns / prevention & control
  • Facility Regulation and Control*
  • Heating / standards*
  • Humans
  • Infection Control
  • Maintenance and Engineering, Hospital / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • State Government
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Water Supply / standards*