Importance of air filtration in hospitals and medical facilities


In February of this year, a Veteran’s Affairs hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, shut down its operating rooms due to issues with the air ventilation system.

According to The Arizona Republic, the air ventilation systems at Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center were experiencing difficulties, although the hospital’s administration declined to specify.

Spokeswoman Jean Schaefer, as cited by The Arizona Republic, said the issue was under investigation at the time. It was revealed, however, that an in-depth mechanical review would be completed within a few days.

Patients who were scheduled for surgery were either rescheduled for a later date, or received outside treatment through the Veterans Choice program. It was also not revealed whether any patients suffered any type of adverse effects.

At the time of the decision to postpone surgeries, fewer than 12 patients were affected.

What occurred at the Phoenix-area hospital highlighted the importance of a well-maintained air ventilation system not just in hospitals, but all types of medical facilities. These systems serve many purposes, and mechanical failures or disruptions can result in less than ideal scenarios.

Emergency sign.Emergency rooms aren’t the only space that needs well-maintained air filtration system.

What do ventilation systems accomplish?

Ventilation systems must be a maintenance priority, along with commercial Hospital HEPA filters. Due to the nature of airborne contagions and other types of germs, ventilation systems protect patients and visitors from contracting illnesses.

But it’s not only patients, friends and family that benefit from functioning and efficient air filtration systems. Doctors and medical personnel do as well, because they are working in cleaner, healthier environments.

Hospital infections are a concern

In the medical world, nosocomial infections are defined as those that originate in a hospital setting. They can either come from the working staff or the surrounding environment.

According to Healthline Networks, a disease is classified as a nosocomial infection if it infects someone who was previously admitted to the hospital for a different health-related reason. The patient will had previously not displayed any signs of infection or incubation, as well.

For every 100 patients in a U.S. hospital, approximately 9.2 of them develop a nosocomial infection, which may occur during or after one of the following:

  • Admission
  • Operation
  • Discharge

Patients will feel the effects of nosocomial infections anywhere from 48 hours after being admitted, to 30 days following an operation. Common infections include, but are not limited to: urinary tract infections, gastroenteritis and hospital-acquired pneumonia.

Effects of nosocomial infections

Depending on the patient, the effects of an infection originating in a hospital vary. For example, patients who undergo organ or bone marrow transplants are at a higher risk of infection because their immune systems are more vulnerable.

Patients who develop a nosocomial infection are at risk of extended hospital stays, and depending on their current state of health and severity of the disease, potentially death.

Different ventilation requirements

Though a poor-performing air filtration system can wreak havoc in hospital settings, it’s important to note that air filtration requirements are not one-size-fits-all on a room-to-room basis.

“Not all parts of a hospital require the same air filtration system.”

Areas of the building, such as those handling highly contagious patients, require higher-efficiency filtration and ventilation systems. Areas that don’t handle patients, such as laboratories, pharmacies and autopsy rooms typically utilize systems that filter out gaseous contaminants to create a more pleasant work environment.

Other areas in a hospital that benefit from having a well-maintained filtration system include, but not limited to:

  • Burn units
  • Bone marrow transplant rooms
  • Data centers
  • Intensive care units
  • Emergency rooms
  • Surgical centers
  • Designated smoking areas
  • Microbiology labs

Finding the right ventilation system

No matter the size and number of buildings, hospitals need a working air ventilation system to protect patients, staff and visitors from germs. The side effects of a malfunctioning filtration system, as seen in a Phoenix-area hospital, can include rescheduling surgeries. In even worse circumstances, patients may develop nosocomial infections, which can lead to further illness and potentially death if the infection is serious enough. 

Patients that develop illnesses in hospitals are susceptible to higher costs from an extended stay. Hospitals also risk citations for non-compliance, as well as a loss of revenue due to a declining reputation.

In some instances, these infections can be deadly depending on a patient’s current state of health.

Hospitals and other medical facilities will find the right ventilation systems they need by working with Air Impurities Removal Systems.