NICU Standard 2: Location Within the Hospital

The NICU shall be a distinct area within the health care facility, with controlled access and a controlled environment.

The NICU shall be located within space designed for that purpose. It shall provide effective circulation of staff, family, and equipment. Traffic to other services shall not pass through the unit. 

The NICU shall be in close and controlled proximity to the area of the hospital where births occur. When obstetric and neonatal services must be on separate floors of the Hospital, an elevator located adjacent to the units with priority call and controlled access by keyed operation shall be provided for service between the birthing unit and the NICU. 

Units receiving infants from other facilities shall have ready access to the hospital's transport receiving area and shall designate a space for transport equipment.

Interpretation: The purpose of this standard is to provide safe and efficient transport of infants while respecting their privacy. Accordingly, the NICU should be a distinct, controlled area immediately adjacent to other perinatal services, except in those local situations (e.g., free-standing children’s hospitals) where exceptions can be justified. Transport of infants within the hospital should be possible without using public corridors.

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