CHA News Article

Hospitals Should Conduct Risk Assessments When Lowering OR Humidity Below 30 Percent
Report identifies issues, offers guidance

The attached report, Relative Humidity Levels in the Operating Room Joint Communication to Healthcare Delivery Organizations, January 2015, was developed by a broad group of interested stakeholders to identify issues hospitals may confront and offers assessment guidance for lowering the operating room relative humidity (RH) below 30 percent.

Several years ago, hospitals in California and other states requested that regulatory bodies modify the operating room lower RH limit from 30 percent to 20 percent. Several national organizations supported this effort, and as a result, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and The Joint Commission adopted the 20 percent humidity level. California’s Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development also incorporated the lower level in the 2013 California Building Standards Code.

However,  issues were recently identified with manufacturers’ warnings about RH levels lower than 30 percent – specifically related to the impact on the integrity and functionality of equipment and supplies used in the operating room. A stakeholder meeting was held to address these concerns and to develop consensus guidelines, offered in the attached report.