July 28, 2023
The Importance of Humidity Monitoring in the Healthcare Industry
Poor monitoring of humidity or temperature can cost some industries tens of billions every year as problems crop up. These are all avoidable losses, and in the world of healthcare could even lead to real dangers during the process of patient care. But what are these dangers, and what makes temperature and humidity monitoring so important?
This article will expand on why you should prioritize this form of environmental tracking. As you consider each point, think about how it could impact your healthcare facility and what you should do to ensure compliance.
Making sure that the conditions in many different areas of healthcare is constant can prevent serious problems. Humidity detection ensures that people can keep the area in a specific state that is best for the work that needs to occur there.
The following are some of the areas that need specific levels of humidity and why.
Healthcare Clean Rooms
These locations need sterile environments that allow people to recover from procedures. They are most often used if someone has a compromised immune system, as even the slightest illness could lead to complications.
Keeping a constant clean room temperature and humidity ensures you can prevent the growth of bacteria and molds. This reduces the likelihood of dangerous infections and upholds the safety of the patient.
If an area becomes too humid or if the temperatures fall outside a specific level, you could find some medicines start to lose their efficacy. Degradation, and even toxicity, in some products can cause danger to patients who rely on them to maintain a high quality of life.
If humidity reaches higher than 60%, many microorganisms start to thrive too, which could cause illnesses in patients. Products exposed to such environments can also start to clump up or become sticky, making it harder for a patient to use them. Or, on the other end of the scale, very low humidity can cause some products to dry out or even crumble, causing similar use issues.
To ensure accurate testing of patient samples, a laboratory must maintain optimal conditions. This will uphold the integrity of every test and will help with the diagnostic process.
Failing to ensure a consistent environment may cause issues that put a patient’s life at great risk. Not only could tests become invalid, but the samples themselves may degrade in very high or low humidities.
Having a very high or low level of humidity in an operating theater can cause significant problems. First of all, it can cause simple discomfort in the patient undergoing surgery.
Although surgery is often a high-stress situation, you want to ensure they feel as comfortable as possible. High temperatures and humidity can lead to excess sweating, which staff must clean up to prevent contamination.
High humidity also creates an environment where infection is much more likely. This can lead to post-surgery complications that surgeons seek to avoid.
Both temperature and humidity must remain constant for storing many vaccines. This can help to prevent spoilage and ensure those receiving the vaccines are effectively immunized.
As some vaccines need very low temperatures, having a low humidity can also prevent frost from gathering on any of the storage containers. This can help healthcare staff identify text on the vaccines faster.
Blood and Tissue Banks
Much like when discussing laboratories and vaccines, blood and tissue banks need a constant level of humidity. This will protect their contents, as low or high levels can impact the integrity of anything stored. If such steps are not followed, it can reduce the samples’ viability for use with patients or research.
Intensive Care Units
Intensive care, especially neonatal units, need to ensure they maintain a controlled environment. This will prevent complications and give newborns the highest chance of recovery.
An ICU unit can often be a hard location for visitors to be in due to fear, guilt, or many other strong emotions. Temperature control ensures people do not face physical discomfort on top of everything else.
Medical Device Manufacturing
Making sure medical devices are both accurate and high-quality is imperative. It gives patients the best chance of safety and recovery and can prevent other problems from occurring.
If the humidity in a manufacturing building falls outside specific limits, it could impact the quality of items. Treatment tools could become ineffective, or monitoring devices might become less accurate. As such, humidity regulation in such an environment in a production line is commonplace.
As with many of the above areas, you need to ensure the equipment is accurate when attempting to diagnose illnesses.
If a patient is uncomfortable, this can also have an impact on how effective a diagnosis is. Their heart rate or blood pressure could change due to the environment around them. As such, ensuring comfort in a controlled environment is very useful in preventing diagnostic failures.
Temperature and Humidity Control
Humidity monitoring and temperature monitoring often go hand-in-hand. This is because one can easily affect the other. The temperature can have a significant impact on how much the air can pick up extra moisture, which then affects the humidity of an area.
As the temperature increases, the air moves in such a way that it can hold much more moisture. If there is the opportunity, this can cause to a huge increase in humidity.
At the same time, as temperature decreases, it becomes much harder for the air to hold water. This can lead to very dry air or lower potential for high humidity.
Accurate temperature detection equipment can thus allow you to predict how humid a location might become. You can then ensure you prepare for humidity changes that might occur and stop them from impacting the role of healthcare staff.
The Consequences of Poor Environmental Controls
Several things can go wrong if you do not have high-quality environmental controls and monitoring equipment. The following are some examples of things that you need to avoid:
A lack of clean room humidity or temperature tracking can compromise the integrity of a clean room’s isolation from the outside world. These rooms should maintain a controlled environment, and not having that removes their purpose.
There will be a much higher risk of contamination due to particles and microorganisms entering. Without monitoring a room’s pressure, contaminants might move between areas when they share air. This could then have serious consequences for a patient’s safety.
Not only this, but a lack of environmental controls in a clean room’s storage areas can also cause molds or bacteria to thrive. When accessed, this could lead to contamination of the rest of the area.
To maintain their integrity, clean rooms need very precise equipment to detect deviations in an environment. This precision needs calibration based on a set temperature or humidity. Should the location become too humid, for example, this can mean that such equipment becomes much less accurate.
Clean rooms often need to follow very strict safety standards set out on a federal or local level. As such, it might not only be a patient’s health at risk from a lack of controls. Failure to follow regulations can lead to non-compliance, which can mean fines, penalties, or other legal woes follow.
If a pharmacy does not use environmental controls, they run a severe risk of failing to keep pharmaceuticals safe.
As a storage location’s heat or humidity falls outside of acceptable bounds, their medicines will start to degrade. As this happens, the stability and potency of each will drop. As such, the location will no longer have the ability to assure customers of their products’ safety.
Failing to ensure environmental stability in this way can often lead to a huge increase in wastage for many companies. This means not only significant financial losses but also a potential danger for many patients. As many individuals rely on the pharmacy for medicine, they may need to go without, causing complications in their recovery.
It is impossible to overstate the dangers of poorly storing a vaccine during transport. This is even more true during periods of extreme heat or cold outside the storage vehicle. If these extremes affect the inside of the vehicle, it can have an impact on the medicine.
If the temperature or humidity gets too high or low, you will often see vaccine spoilage. Many vaccines are not effective after such changes, and this could cause patients to believe they have immunity when they do not.
As such, ensuring the right factors in a vaccine’s environment can often make a huge difference.
Healthcare settings are often filled with many people in a small area, as well as a lot of equipment. They can become very hot and humid during the summer months, which can have a negative effect on patients.
Maintaining the proper humidity and temperature can occur through a well-maintained HVAC system. Although, if the temperature sensors in such devices are not working, it can cause problems very fast.
Implementing Reliable Monitoring Systems
The process of finding a better way of ensuring a stable environment starts with ensuring you take some important steps. These include:
Selecting the Right Equipment
Make sure that you seek out and pick up monitoring equipment that matches the specific needs of your healthcare facility. Consider the features of any equipment that you get to ensure you have the most accurate and effective tools for your requirements.
Consider aspects such as:
- UX and ease of use
- Data logging
- Cloud access
- Compliance with standards
Having monitoring equipment that suits what you need in each of these categories will mean your employees will find them more useful.
Benefits of Wireless Monitoring
With 21st-Century monitoring tools, you cannot expect to need to have a device plugged in at any time. You should be able to monitor things from afar via the cloud or another wireless system.
Doing this also ensures you do not need to check everything manually. You can set up the devices and then allow them to run, giving you output without further interaction. This can save large amounts of time over time, especially if you need to install many of these devices across the healthcare facility.
Wireless devices also offer much more flexibility. You can place them in more locations and do so without the need to link them to an internal physical network. This also means you can scale their installation up and down without needing more network plugs.
Benefits of Real-Time Data Collection
Having up-to-date data coming in from monitoring devices offers you a better chance to react to dangerous conditions. You can set up alerts and other triggers to detect temperatures or humidities outside of specific bounds. These alerts can go to a central server or appear on people’s pagers, emails, or other areas to ensure fast responses.
With such information, you can also engage in predictive maintenance. You can see how different environments are trending and fix equipment that is not working as well as it should long before it fails.
Because of this ability to respond well ahead of time, you will have many opportunities to prevent problems. You reduce the risks to patients, equipment, or even the facilities themselves. You will have much less chance of molds and bacteria spreading, slowing the degradation of facilities.
Many regulations or laws demand that you have monitoring systems in place by the time you bring patients in. By giving staff proper training on how to use such equipment and ensuring its proper use, you can make sure you adhere to such legal standards. This prevents you from needing to pay out fines or other legal costs in the long run.
Enacting Humidity Monitoring Right First Time
With all the above in mind, you should understand why there is such an emphasis on temperature and humidity monitoring in healthcare. Without equipment to help you keep everything within acceptable limits, you may run into major problems. We can help you avoid such scenarios and ensure you follow applicable regulations.
We provide wireless monitoring systems that allow you to ensure these areas do not fall outside of acceptable bounds. We have a variety of different options, including humidity probes and sensors. So, check out our products today to find something that suits your needs.