When you are in a hospital, the thought of batteries is probably the last thing on your mind, yet without them, many of us would face a variety of barriers. Give a thought to all the equipment that runs off batteries, which are required for facilitating urgent care. These include heart monitors, blood analysers, defibrillators, thermometer infusion pumps, and so many more.
Hospitals need a power source that is uninterrupted. In the case of the power outage, these facilities come equipped with backup power that is vital to carry on operating essential equipment which is found in intensive-care systems and operating theatres.
The US markets in association with medical devices are currently generating $180 billion in revenue. This figure is the biggest across the globe according to a 2017 Global Market for Medical Devices report. The equipment manufacturers are continuously encountering problems for battery-powered and portable devices. Discharge profiles, battery chemistry, and the effects caused by ageing batteries is an issue that requires upkeep.
The devices that include dialysis systems, anaesthesia machines, and ventilators, are all powered from a main AC supply. This means that the batteries receive a discharge that is shallow before they are charged again. Valve-regulated lead-acid and sealed-lead acid maintain a single basic flaw, which includes an increase in their resistance internally.
What this translates into is that when the internal resistance starts to increase, a sudden requirement for power usually draws a significant amount of power, which causes the voltage to drop. This is not good and can become a problem. The more common mistake that many manufacturers make when they match a battery to a device is that they are not choosing the batteries which have internal resistances that matches up to that load.
The peak-charging rate inside lithium-ion battery cells starts to decline after a certain number of high-rate charges. This has to do with the chemical and physical changes that occur inside the cells of the batteries. It is always better to charge batteries at a current that is lowest that the user is able to tolerate. Then recharge only when the capacity that remains has decreased to the level that it is no longer able to offer useful power.
When it comes to the portable dialysis machines that travel with a user in a hospital setting, this unit needs to recharge quickly rather than lowering the care quality for that patient.
One big hospital purchases on average 97,000 batteries, usually in bulk from places like the UPS Battery Shop . These batteries are also disposed of which leads to concerns associated with recycling programs. Many of these hospitals dispose of these batteries in the standard trash, which is a risk to both environmental and human health due to these heavy metals. The metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and nickel are released into the surrounding environment.
How Hospitals Should be Dealing with Batteries
Hospitals should be developing efficient battery-recycling programs. It is true that their main priority has to do with saving lives. Yet they are not doing anyone any favours by releasing patients back into toxic environments. This is basically swapping one issue for another.
Environmental targets and goals need to be mandated and should appear in hospital policies. The strategies that minimise costs educate their staff and methods to comply with the set regulatory compliance should be included. One of the essential steps for developing a battery recycling program that is effective is to start with assessing the battery numbers each hospital uses.
The AAMI Association states that battery maintenance is a major problem that biomedical-engineer technicians face. The batteries in the medical equipment that is portable are vital in the development of patient care.
Making Recycling Batteries a Priority
To determine the success of a program, hospitals first need to establish the number of batteries that need to be recycled, the patterns associated with battery purchasing, along with locations for waste-recycling facilities. In most cases, the vendors of hazardous waste facilities are open to arranging for removal of batteries from hospitals. In addition, there are already many hospitals that have teamed up with a vendor that recycle these batteries free of charge like Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation.