Lithium batteries in battery-powered mobile medical carts have been used since at least 2010 in the healthcare industry. In a recent letter (December 27, 2016) to hospitals from the FDA,
 
“The FDA is warning health care facilities of potential safety risks associated with battery-powered mobile medical carts. The FDA is aware of reports of explosion, fires, smoking, or overheating of equipment that required hospital evacuations associated with the batteries in these carts.”
 
This letter has hospitals scrambling to understand the implications for their particular battery-powered mobile medical carts and what they can do to prevent this from happening in their facility.

When this FDA warning letter was sent to healthcare professionals regarding battery failure concerns, IMS immediately went to work responding to customer inquiries with the information needed to assure them that their battery-powered medical carts met the highest safety standards. We quickly provided test results and certifications on components and systems showing how we met these standards, in this case with a HiCare cart. IMS's Letter To Customers Regarding Our Mobile Computer Carts

Safeguarding Your Facility

Worrying about the possibility of your computer cart causing an event should be the last thing on your mind when providing care to patients! Constant monitoring on the temperature in the inverter and battery is one step toward peace of mind. At IMS, we offer a state-of-the-art battery monitoring software that continually:

  • Monitors and reports on inverter temperature
  • Reports charging protocol to determine usage
  • Provides information to make buy or redeploy decisions

Having this kind of knowledge not only allows time to service components to prevent failure, but it also extends the life of these components. Battery Management Software

Solutions to Help

Per the FDA’s news release, a preventive maintenance (PM) inspection and inverter clean up of your cart fleet is recommended. You can do this yourself or hire a reputable company to service your carts. At IMS, we have a team of certified technicians available to maintain and repair your carts to ensure everything runs optimally. Annual support agreements, power system upgrades, or a one-time PM are all available options.

In addressing the FDA’s warning, the team at IMS is a great place to start that discussion. IMS has a well-designed solution with a lithium iron magnesium phosphate battery that's functional and well-built. Paired with battery management software and a preventive maintenance agreement, you have an understanding on "Cost of Ownership" and how it impacts your facility, both today and in the future.

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To quickly and affordably deal with warnings, such as this recent notice from the FDA, puts facilities in a reactive mode. Instead, face the future on battery-powered mobile medical carts with a proactive approach to cutting costs, preserving capital, and increasing efficiency without any additional resources. Security is knowing that your carts are UL certified. IMS offers carts whose lithium batteries along with the complete manufactured cart are UL certified, and the power charger inverter is TUV certified. This quality cart has saved our customers significant money over the years. Some are still using their carts for upwards of 10 years - talk about cost avoidance on new carts! At IMS we like to call it "Cost of Ownership."

Here's how one IMS-supported hospital group maximized availability, measurably extending the life of a capital asset (mobile computer workstations), by investing in a quality cart and a preventive maintenance program. Their investment is paying off; they continue to use carts purchased in 2007 that are still in full rotation, showing very little wear and tear. They truly understand the long term value of buying, not just on price but the total cost of ownership. Read more about "Cost of Ownership"

 

 Above and Beyond

The lithium batteries IMS uses are made with the highest quality components and the right battery chemistry to assure optimum safety. To showcase the extreme environment these batteries can take, they've been tested with crush, high heat, nail penetration, and yes, even bullet tests. The results show a passing grade for each test with competing technology going down in flames, quite literally. The video below showcases these results.

 

While a bit extreme on the testing, it shows the importance of durability and safety which is crucial to understanding the impact your cart may have in a 24/7 healthcare environment. You can’t afford for your carts to be out of service, let alone involved in an event that could prompt an emergency response.

History with Lithium

IMS is proud to say we were one of the very first to provide our customers with the lithium battery technology when it became available in 2010 and have approximately 10,000 lithium batteries in use amongst our customers. Battery chemistry and integrated active smart electronics create an exceptional design. Over 100,000 of the batteries have been in use in medical carts since 2010 with no major thermal incident. This gives us confidence that we’re providing an optimal solution for our customers’ mobile computing carts, in many cases extending the life of the cart.

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Patient and clinician safety is paramount in the products we carry. Are you confident in the safety of your computer carts and the battery system powering them? Are you happy with what you currently use? If not, let’s talk.

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