The FDA issued a warning today to healthcare professionals regarding the safety hazards associated with battery-powered mobile medical carts. The federal watchdog said it has received numerous reports of hospital fires and explosions due to overheated equipment. Mobile medical carts, such as crash carts and medication dispensing carts, usually use high capacity lithium or lead acid batteries which last for many hours.
“Battery-powered mobile medical carts are used because of their convenience and utility. FDA has received medical device reports of hospital fires and other health hazards associated with batteries used in mobile medical carts and their chargers,” the FDA wrote. “These events, which range from smoke production and overheating to equipment fires and explosion, can occur with lithium, lead acid, and other types of batteries. Such hazards may result in equipment and facility damage, hospital evacuation or patient and staff injury.”
The organization wrote that it in several reports, firefighters had to bury mobile medical cart batteries to extinguish a fire because lithium battery fires are difficult to put out.
If a fire occurs, the FDA recommends that the healthcare professional immediately report the fire, unplug the cart and safely get it away from patients.
The FDA also said that healthcare professionals should regularly inspect batteries for signs of damage and vacuum to remove dust and lint around battery chargers. Keeping chargers or charging carts in confined spaces is not recommended, according to the federal watchdog.