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.