FDA Issues Warning on Exploding, Flammable Battery-Powered Carts

01/03/2017 |

The FDA letter includes reports of explosion, fires, smoking or overheating of equipment that have required hospital evacuations

Battery-powered medical carts have exploded or burst into flames in several hospitals, according to a cautionary letter to health care providers from the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA is warning health care facilities of potential safety risks associated with battery-powered mobile medical carts. The carts typically contain high-capacity lithium or lead acid batteries that power workstations and medical devices for many hours. These particular battery-powered carts can spark, overheat, emit noxious fumes and cause other hazards. The FDA urges hospitals and clinics to pay greater attention to preventive maintenance. 

The FDA recommends that health care professionals and health care 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 health care facility to use.

If you have questions about this letter, please contact the Division of Industry and Consumer Education (DICE) at DICE@FDA.HHS.GOV, 800-638-2041 or 301-796-7100. 

To read the letter in full, please click here

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