With more organizations lowering the relative humidity levels in operating rooms (ORs), there are concerns about the impact on sterile supplies and electro-medical equipment. A multi-society communication, organized by the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI), aims to help leaders determine whether a lower humidity level is appropriate.

The statement provides background and presents questions and key points leaders should consider when establishing or adjusting relative humidity levels to below 30%. The statement was developed after a multi-organization meeting at AAMI headquarters in October. The communication was issued by groups including the American Society of Anesthesiologists, the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses, the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association, and the American Hospital Association.

Last year a hospital was cited by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for setting the humidity level lower than that specified in the instructions for use for certain sterile products in the OR. The citation came despite CMS’s categorical waiver of the Life Safety Code in April 2013 that would allow the anesthetizing locations of organizations 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, JD, CAE, 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 joint communication is available at http://bit.ly/1yoGeiD.