Medical Gas Master Alarms – Problems and Solutions

Medical gas master alarms are among the most crucial pieces of equipment in a healthcare facility.  They monitor life saving gases such as oxygen, nitrous oxide, medical air, etc.  The Joint Commission and other regulatory agencies have moved the master alarm system for medical gases to the top of their list when addressing areas of concern.  In other words, if you have a problem with your medical gas master alarms, you need to fix it quickly.  Problems or deficiencies with these alarms present a distinct hazard to patient safety and must be dealt with.

The issue within most facilities is that the alarm systems, or at least the wiring is very old.  So while other portions of the system have been upgraded, the master alarms are still operating on an antiquated copper wire system that may not meet the current specifications for the newer alarm panels.  The other issue is that hospital ceilings are full, very full, with little room to run additional conduit and wire, making the addition of alarm panels in different locations costly and time consuming.

There is another way…ethernet.  Your hospital has it, every hospital has it, most houses even have it!  Ethernet is a scalable technology that is likely kept up to date by your IT department.  At EMGS, we have the expertise to work with your IT department and utilize your existing infrastructure to provide you with a master alarm anywhere you have a computer with an intranet connection to your facility’s network.  This is all accomplished via the Amico AIMS Ethernet solution.

EMGS recently completed this project at Houston Medical Center in Warner Robins, Ga.  They had a need for a master alarm in their engineering annex building, but running new wire all the way to that building was going to be difficult due to the crowded ceilings and having to traverse buildings.  We implemented the Amico AIMS Ethernet solution, and now they have a touchscreen panel (pictured to the right) that shows them in real time the status of all of their master alarms for the facility.  They also get an e-mail notification any time an alarm goes off, thereby creating a log of alarms and notifying the appropriate staff.

If you have medical gas master alarm issues, take heart, they aren’t as bad as they seem.  They can be resolved and it can be done with less of a headache than you think.  Give us a call and we will work with you to create a solution that is perfect for your facility.

Surgery centers, are you tracking your medical gas usage?

Most hospitals and larger facilities have personnel who are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of their medical gas source equipment, but what about smaller facilities and surgery centers who do not have an on-site maintenance staff?

The majority of service calls we receive from surgery centers are for suspected leaks in a manifold or a lag alarm on a vacuum pump. The facility discovers this when they have returned to the facility and alarms are blaring. At this point it is an emergency, but this emergency is usually preventable.

Using simple daily logs, the facility can begin tracking what their average usage is. If deviations start to show in the amount of gas used or hours tallied on the vacuum pumps, it will become apparent before it is an emergency. This will also help the facility’s service company diagnose the problem.

For more information on tracking your usage and for free downloadable forms please contact EMGS at info.emgsi.com or visit www.emgsi.com.

Medical Air Dryers

The 2005 edition of NFPA 99 in paragraph 5.1.3.5.3.3 states:

“Medical air compressor systems shall preclude the condensation of water vapor in the piping distribution system by the selection of the air drying equipment.”

Within the last two weeks EMGS has responded to four service calls to troubleshoot/repair medical air dryers and that is no coincidence. If you live in Georgia you already know that the hot, humidity-filled summers can make life a little bit unbearable.  Medical air dryers hate these humidity-filled summers as well.

For the most part, medical air compressors draw air from the roof of the building in which they are located. In the summer this air can be over 100° F., and due to heat of compression only gets hotter once it travels through the compressors, causing condensation in the medical air piping. Aftercoolers, filters, and drains help prevent the condensation of liquid in the medical air piping, but sometimes these are not enough.

The medical air dryers receive most abuse while separating the liquid from the lines. With desiccant dryers especially, it is very important to daily inspect the dryers, dew point monitor, filter canisters, and drains.  Simply draining the receiver and pre-filter canisters on a daily basis can save the desiccant from oversaturation of liquid resulting in costly repairs of the dryer system.  Remember, if the dew point monitor alarm initiates at the master alarm panel, it is probably too late and the dryer will need costly repairs.