AAMI Plans to Address Issues on Humidity Levels in Hospital Operating Rooms

October 15, 2014

The Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) will convene a meeting among Healthcare Delivery Organizations (HDOs) this October to discuss the prevalent issues concerning the appropriate humidity levels in hospital operating rooms (ORs) and how this can impact the biomedical equipment in operation.

Biomed Monthly – Jult 2014 Earlier this year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) survey cited a similar case in a California-based hospital wherein the OR kept the humidity at a lower level in contrary to the specified directions for use in some sterile products during the operation despite that the humidity level has been approved for the OR itself. This instance of uncertainty in the field prompted the AAMI President Mary Logan to tackle the issue of relative humidity (RH) level in ORs.

The issue of humidity requirements in operating rooms has been a hot topic since 1950s. This event often arises due to conflicting standards between the approved humidity level change of a federal agency and various groups and the manufacturer’s recommended humidity parameter for some medical equipment used in the OR.

In the Life Safety Code released by CMS in April 2013, anesthetizing locations of HDOs are allowed to operate at least or above 20 percent relative humidity (RH) rather than the previous standard 35 percent or more. Since the RH might relatively affect the shelf life of some sterile supplies, ASHRAE (American Society for Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers) together with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), American Society of Healthcare Engineering (ASHE), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) advocated the acceptable level be within the 20 percent to 60 percent range. The Joint Commission also approved this amendment on the apt RH levels in ORs.

According to Mary Logan, AAMI President, “Stakeholders have recognized that we have a big problem that has led to confusion in the field.” Hence, AAMI plans to gather regulators, accreditation organizations, representatives from medical device companies and HDOs, sterilization experts, and group purchasing organizations in this forthcoming assembly to keep all concerned entities well informed on the strict applications of humidity levels in hospital facilities.

This October AAMI meeting is part of the organization’s mission to support the healthcare community in the development, management, and application of safe and effective medical technology. AIV is dedicated to providing support to all national, state, and local groups in the biomedical and clinical engineering field. Browse through a list of biomedical and healthcare technology management associations that we support, including AAMI, at www.aiv-inc.com/biomed-associations.html.

About the Author

Laura Collier

Laura Collier

Laura Collier has a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of North Florida. She is the Marketing Manager at AIV, Inc.

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