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FDA issues warning for battery-powered mobile medical carts.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning to healthcare facilities on Dec. 27, 2016, of potential safety risks associated with battery-powered mobile medical carts, noting that it is aware of reports of "explosion, fires, smoking, or overheating of equipment that required hospital evacuations associated with the batteries in these carts." Battery-powered mobile medical carts include crash carts, medication dispensing carts, and carts that carry and power medical devices for point of care, barcode scanners, and patient monitoring. These carts typically have high-capacity lithium or lead acid batteries that can power medical devices and workstations (computers) for many hours.

The FDA recommends that healthcare professionals and healthcare facilities take the following steps to help reduce the potential for injury to patients, staff, and visitors.

Preventative maintenance of battery-powered mobile medical carts:

* Inspect batteries for signs of damage, including bulging, swelling, or cracks.

* Notify the manufacturer of damaged batteries.

* Inspect battery chargers and carts containing chargers for overheating components.

* Vacuum to remove dust and lint around battery chargers and carts containing chargers.

* Do not use batteries that do not charge properly. Ensure that batteries are replaced at the manufacturer-recommended replacement intervals.

* Conduct a survey of battery charger locations, and verify that all chargers are located in easily visible, fire-retardant locations away from patient care areas and open sources of oxygen.

* Do not install chargers or charging carts in confined spaces.

* Keep flammable and explosive objects away from battery chargers and charging carts.

* Request preventative maintenance documentation from the cart manufacturer for the healthcare facility to use.

If a battery in a mobile medical cart catches fire while charging or in use:

* Immediately report the fire according to your hospital protocol. Follow hospital protocol for addressing a Class C electrical fire.

* Do not touch the battery.

* Unplug the charger or power off the cart if it is safe to do so.

* Remove the cart from patient and visitor areas as safely as possible.

General recommendations for battery-powered mobile medical carts:

* Do not block any charging station vents.

* Do not tape or attach any object or material to a battery charger.

* Only operate and store the battery charger and cart with charger outside of patient rooms and in non-patient care areas.

* Contact the manufacturer if there is a problem with any component of this system. This alerts the manufacturer of a potential product concern.

* Request maintenance and user manuals for the carts, chargers, batteries, and all accessories.

Before purchasing these carts, establish the necessary criteria that meet your facility needs:

* Meets battery standards for use in a hospital environment.

* Preventative and maintenance documents to be supplied to facilities.

Visit FDA for the complete warning at

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Publication:Health Management Technology
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2017
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