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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Water Damage in Hospitals

By Jonathan Meyer

Water damage is a problem in itself, but it becomes even more complex and challenging when it occurs in a hospital or a healthcare facility which has its own set of unique risks. The dangers posed by water damage in a hospital are the possibilities that it could damage technical systems, disrupt communication and access to the hospital's networks.

A water episode poses risks of damage to expensive hospital equipment such as diagnostic devices, x-ray machines, lab equipment and treatment machines. In addition to potential equipment damage, water intrusion can cause power failure in a hospital which may not be temporary if the power backup is also affected. Complete power loss is a scenario that creates a host of risks related to patient care.

If the incident involves contaminated water, then there is a risk of contaminating sterile hospital areas like operating rooms and sterilized instruments. The risk of contamination and infection is high in a hospital because hazardous materials (chemicals, radioactive substances, infectious and pathological medical wastes) are present in this type of facility and could come into contact with water that has entered the building. To make things worse, contaminated water can easily travel from one unit or floor level to another.

After a water episode, the hospital also has to take into account potential secondary water damage, particularly mold growth. There's always a risk of mold growth in any water-damaged building, but the potential health hazards of mold exposure are obviously greater in a hospital where patients with weak immune systems become easy targets for respiratory infections.

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