Can on-call rooms in a hospital have occupancy indicator deadbolts that are separate from the latchsets, or do these doors have to unlatch with one releasing motion?
This is a great question. All doors in a means of egress require hardware that unlatches with one releasing motion, unless there is a specific exception in the code. There are exceptions in the model codes for residential dwelling units and sleeping units, where a second – non-simultaneous – releasing motion would be acceptable.
An on-call room is a room in a hospital where staff can sleep or rest while they are on call. According to the International Building Code (IBC), a sleeping unit is a space for one or more persons to sleep, which may also include other provisions for living. This might make it seem like the on-call rooms could have a separate nightlatch, deadbolt, or security chain because the rooms are used for sleeping, but we need to take a closer look at the IBC exception:
1010.2.4(5) Doors from individual dwelling or sleeping units of Group R occupancies having an occupant load of 10 or less are permitted to be equipped with a night latch, dead bolt or security chain, provided such devices are openable from the inside without the use of a key or tool.
The IBC exception specifically addresses Group R – Residential occupancies, and a hospital would typically be Group I – Institutional. Because the exception applies to Group R, it would not apply to on-call rooms used for sleeping in a Group I occupancy. However, if the on-call rooms are in an area that is considered Group R, the separate deadbolts could be used per the exception. NFPA 101 has a similar exception and also refers to residential occupancies. So technically, the model codes require on-call rooms in a Group I facility to have hardware that unlatches with one motion (for example, a mortise lock with an integral indicator), but would allow a second releasing motion (for example, a latchset + separate deadbolt) for Group R areas.
Update: Thanks for the feedback in the comments! I have edited the end of this post to reflect the possibility that the on-call area could be Group R.