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FDA: Battery-Powered Mobile Medical Carts Could Be a Fire Hazard

The agency has received reports of explosions, fires, smoking and overheating related to lithium batteries.

Published: January 4, 2017

HEATED WARNING Lithium battery fires can be extremely difficult to extinguish.

Your mobile medical carts could be fire hazards.

The FDA says it's received multiple reports of explosions, fires, smoking and overheating caused by high-capacity lithium or lead acid batteries in crash carts, medication dispensing carts, and carts that carry and power medical devices for point of care, barcode scanners, and patient monitoring. Some of the incidents forced hospitals to evacuate. Problems can occur with other types of batteries, too, says the FDA.

Problems have been compounded, says the FDA, because lithium battery fires are very difficult to put out. In some cases, firefighters have had to bury the batteries to extinguish them.

The agency is recommending numerous steps to reduce the potential for problems, including inspecting batteries for signs of damage, including bulging, swelling, or cracks; inspecting battery chargers and carts containing chargers for overheating components; and vacuuming to remove dust and lint around battery chargers and carts that contain chargers.

You should also be sure to replace batteries at manufacturer-recommended replacement intervals, and not use batteries that don't charge properly, says the FDA.

Jim Burger

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