A joint statement from 11 professional societies, spearheaded by the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI), offers guidance to healthcare organizations on what levels of operating-room humidity are appropriate for their facilities.

Issued on January 9, 2015, the statement provides background on the issue and lists questions and key points to consider when establishing or adjusting relative humidity levels to below 30%. The statement was developed following a meeting of the organizations last October.

According to AAMI, the issue of humidity levels rose to prominence after a California hospital was cited last year by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for setting humidity levels lower than specified for certain sterile products being used in the OR.  AAMI adds that the citation came despite a categorical waiver by CMS of the Life Safety Code in April 2013. That waiver would allow the anesthetizing locations “to operate with a relative humidity of equal to or greater than 20%, rather than the previous requirement of equal to or greater than 35%.”

“Our common goal is to help healthcare delivery organizations understand the challenges and important considerations related to relative humidity levels in the OR,” said Mary Logan, president of AAMI. “And we all want to ensure that patients are protected and that resources are utilized effectively. We hope this communication will help achieve these objectives.”

The other organizations behind the joint statement are the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association (ASCA), American College of Clinical Engineering (ACCE), American Hospital Association (AHA), American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE), American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), Association for Healthcare Resource & Materials Management (AHRMM), Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN), Association of Surgical Technologists (AST), Health Industry Distributors Association (HIDA), and the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materials Management (IAHCSMM).

The joint communication is available the AAMI website (PDF).