First, there were exploding e-cigarettes and hoverboards. Then Samsung Galaxy Note 7 cell phones were blowing up. Now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning to healthcare providers about battery-powered medical carts that have exploded or burst into flames in numerous hospitals. The FDA reported that the carts typically contain high-capacity lithium or lead-acid batteries that can power workstations and medical devices for many hours. Although they are convenient, these battery-powered carts can spark, overheat, emit noxious fumes and cause other hazards.
How prevalent is this problem?
Between January 2, 2013, and July 21, 2016, the agency received 12 reports of cart-related smoke, fire, melting batteries, burning and other hazards. So far, thankfully, no injuries have been reported. But, one hospital had to evacuate patients and staff members due to smoke and fires. The FDA is cautioning hospitals and clinic that such hazards may result in equipment and facility damage, hospital evacuation or patient and staff injuries. In addition, the agency warns that lithium battery fires are very difficult to put out. In some of the reported incidents, firefighters had to bury the mobile medical cart batteries to extinguish a fire.
FDA Issues Strong Warning
The FDA regulates lithium battery-powered medical carts as medical devices and collects reports of fires and related adverse events. This warning covers a range of carts including crash carts, those that dispense medication or those that carry accessories to colonoscopes, ultrasound and anesthesia machines.
The FDA recommends that healthcare facilities perform preventive maintenance including inspecting batteries for signs of damage, inspecting chargers and carts for overheating and properly replacing the batteries as recommended by the manufacturer. Healthcare facilities are also advised to keep these carts away from patient care areas or open sources of oxygen.
The Danger of Lithium-Ion Batteries
Our product defect attorneys are looking into cases where individuals have suffered severe burn injuries and scarring as a result of defective lithium-ion batteries that power various devices including e-cigarettes. In the last few months, so many cases have been reported leading major airlines to ban e-cigarettes, hoverboards and Samsung Note 7 cell phones from aircraft.
If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of a defective lithium battery, you may be entitled to receive compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, rehabilitation, pain and suffering and emotional distress. Contact an experienced injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights and options.