IUSS Paper

Multi-Society Communication Addresses Humidity Level Changes, Safety Issues

A January 9, 2015, multi-society communication on the lowering of the humidity levels in the Operating Room was released to healthcare stakeholders whose work touches sterile supplies and electro-medical equipment used in delivering patient care.  The Ambulatory Surgery Center Association (ASCA), American Hospital Association (AHA), American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE), American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), Association of periOperative Nurses (AORN), Association of Surgical Technologists (AST), California Hospital Association (CHA), Health Industry Distributors Association (HIDA), The International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management (IAHCSMM), and The Joint Commission (TJC) all contributed to the development of the communication.

At the request of a number of healthcare delivery organizations, the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) investigated and revised its international standard for HVAC design parameters in 2010 (Addendum D to the 2008 version).  The environmental RH for anesthetizing locations, including Operating Rooms was changed to expand the minimum en of the range from 30% to 20% RH.  The upper limit remains at 60% RH.  The American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) and the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) support the ASHRAE standard, as does The Joint Commission (TJC).

Use of a 20% rather than a 30% minimum RH is becoming increasingly desirable from a facilities management perspective; however, there are important points for healthcare organizations to consider.  The multi-society communication addresses some of those key issues.

pdfClick here to access the full multi-society document, Relative Humidity Levels in the Operating Room: Joint Communication to Healthcare Delivery Organizations.

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