Nursing Facility Health & Life Safety Code

Survey Reports

The South Dakota Department of Health, Office of Health Care Facilities Licensure and Certification, conducts a recertification survey of each nursing facility on an average of once a year (9 to 15 month interval).  There are two types of federal surveys conducted, health and life safety code.

Health Surveys 

These are conducted by a survey team consisting of qualified and trained health facility surveyors.  The survey team can include nurses, social workers, dietitians, sanitarians, pharmacists, medical technologists, and generalists. The survey includes interviews with a sample of residents and family members, interviews with caregivers and administrative staff, and reviews of clinical records.

42 CFR Part 483 of the Code of Federal Regulations provides detailed federal regulatory standards nursing homes must meet.  Those standards address areas of service provided by the nursing facility including but not limited to the following: 

Resident Rights  

The facility must promote the exercise of rights for each resident, including any who face barriers (such as communication problems, hearing problems, and cognition limits) in the exercise of these rights.

Resident Behavior

The intent of this requirement is for each person to attain and maintain his / her highest practicable well-being in an environment that prohibits the use of restraints for discipline or convenience and limits restraint use to circumstances in which the resident has medical symptoms that warrant the use of restraints.

Quality of Life

 The facility must promote care for residents in a manner and in an environment that maintains or enhances each resident’s dignity and respect in full recognition of his or her individuality.

Resident Assessment

The facility must conduct initially and periodically a comprehensive, accurate, standardized reproducible assessment of each resident’s functional capacity.

Quality of Care

The facility must ensure services are provided for residents to maintain, and when possible, improve functional ability.

Nursing Services 

The facility must have sufficient nursing staff to provide nursing and related services to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being for each resident as determined by resident assessments and individual plans of care.

Dietary Services

The facility must provide each resident with a nourishing, palatable, well-balanced diet that meets the daily nutritional and special dietary needs of each resident.

Dental Services 

The facility must assist residents in obtaining routine and 24-hour emergency dental care.

Pharmacy Services

The facility must provide routine and emergency drugs and biological (such as growth hormones and vaccines) to its residents, or obtain them under an agreement.  Pharmacy services also include how medications are received, dispensed, administered, and stored.

Infection Control

The facility must establish and maintain an infection control program designed to provide a safe, sanitary, and comfortable environment and help prevent the development and transmission of disease and infection. This would include proper hand washing, glove use, and isolation procedures.

Physical Environment

The facility must be designed, constructed, equipped, and maintained to protect the health and safety of residents, staff, and the public.


The facility must operate and provide services in compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws, regulations, and codes, and with accepted professional standards and principles that apply to professionals providing services in such a facility.  This includes the proper employment of properly licensed and trained staff.

Life Safety Surveys 

The life safety code (National Fire Protection Association Standard 101) sets a minimum building design, construction, operation, and maintenance requirements necessary to protect residents from dangers caused by fire, smoke, and toxic fumes.  The life safety code also provides prompt escape requirements for new and existing buildings.  Title 42 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 483.70 requires nursing home facilities to meet the provisions of the life safety code.