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Medical Cart Battery Fires – Code RED

April 27, 2018

Medical cart battery fires have been occurring in our hospitals. Last week a hospital in the USA had a modular swappable battery ignite into flames while in the charging unit. It was late at night and there was flames and smoke. The nurses immediately put the fire out and placed the charred charging unit and batteries outside. This is the third medical cart battery fire at this single facility in last two years. They utilize medical mobile computing carts with a modular swappable battery power system. This is a chord-less mobile computing medical cart power system whereby clincial healthcare providers are required to monitor cart battery power levels and change out modular batteries the size of a loaf of bread throughout their shift. They swap them in and out of a central charging unit, from cart to charger – charger to cart.

This is not an isolated occurrence. cartadvocate is compiling research to report further here. Medical cart battery fires are a threat to hospitals in many ways:

  1. Fire – In itself a fire is a Code Red and something a hospital never wants to occur
  2. Smoke – the unknown and potentially toxic gas in the smoke must be contained and ventilated properly
  3. Temporary Lost Patient Care – the area where the medical cart battery fire took place is now isolated and unavailable for patient care

Fire is a threat to patients, staff, visitors, equipment and the hospital structure itself.

Smoke is a threat to patients, staff, and visitors. The chemical nature of the smoke from battery components is unknown to me at this time. My understanding is it requires containment and thorough and proper exhausting and ventilation.

Temporary lost patient care area causes an unknown number of risks. Lost revenue for patient capacity, patient transference (internal or external), as well as compound the complexity of care being provided.

A soft cost may be found in lowered HCAHPS scores as patients and families’ perception of the hospital care provided is diminished due to witnessing medical equipment catching fire.

Stay tuned for more reporting on my research around medical cart battery fires at http://www.cartadvocate.com . Here are some images from the medical cart battery fire at a hospital just this past week.

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