The average person isn’t thinking about UPS batteries when they’re spending time in the hospital but there would be a great many barriers if the hospital didn’t have them. Heart monitors, pumps, blood analyzers, and defibrillators are just some of the different equipment that runs on batteries. It is necessary for the hospital to have power sources that are uninterrupted.
On the chance that a power outage might occur a hospital will have backup power to run equipment that is critical such as those used in the Intensive Care or in an operating room. The medical devices industry in the US market generated almost $2 billion dollars in revenue. That is more than in any other place in the world according to some reports.
Portable battery-powered devices are something the manufacturers of that equipment still encounter problems with. Discharge profiles and battery chemistry have an impact on how the batteries age and the type of upkeep that is required. Improving these areas will improve the reliability of the batteries.
Machines such as those for anaesthesia, dialysis, and ventilators are powered by the AC supply. This means the battery will get a slight discharge before it starts to charge again. Valve regulated lead acid and sealed lead acid have one main flaw which is they experience an increase in their internal resistance.
The result of this is that as the resistance grows internally, the additional power needed can be substantial which in turn causes the voltage to drop. In many situations, this is something that is troublesome. The biggest problem that is encountered is the ability to match batteries to devices so that the internal resistance is appropriate to the total load.
The peak charging rate for a lithium-ion battery will decline if it has a lot of high rate charging sessions. This is due to chemical and physical changes that happen inside the battery cells. It is usually best to charge a battery like this at the lowest current that can be tolerated. Even then, it should only be charged when its capacity has dropped below a level that no longer allows it to deliver useful power.
For something like a portable dialysis machine that needs to be mobile and move with the patient walking around in the hospital, it needs to be capable of being recharged quickly without reducing the quality of care it provides for the patient. One single hospital that is fairly large in size can purchase up to a hundred thousand batteries. Eventually, those batteries will need to be disposed of which causes concerns about recycling programs.
The majority of hospitals still dispose of the batteries by putting them into the regular trash. This poses risks to the environment and to humans because it causes exposure to heavy metals. Metals such as mercury, cadmium, nickel, and lead can be released into the environment.
Battery recycling programs should be developed by the hospitals. Saving lives is certainly a top priority but it doesn’t help anyone when they pollute the environment with toxins from the batteries. That’s just helping one problem while causing another. There should be mandated policies in place for hospitals to reach environmental targets and goals. They need strategies that help them to comply with regulations and to educate staff as well as to minimize cost.
They should begin by taking a full account of how many batteries are used in their hospital. According to some associations, the maintenance of batteries is one of the biggest problems that biomedical engineer technicians are facing. These portable batteries are a critical part of powering the medical equipment needed for patient care.
In order to come up with a program that could be successful, the hospital will need to determine the number of batteries they need to recycle. They will also need to know the patterns the hospital uses when purchasing batteries as well as better understanding where waste recycling facilities are located. Currently, it is common for a hazardous waste vendor to make an agreement with the hospital to remove all of their batteries. It is possible for hospitals to team up with vendors who can recycle the batteries for free and one such place is the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation.