Waste anesthetic gas analysis improves health care environment across US southwest

Gasmet gas analysis technology is enabling US health system provider Banner Health to test its clinical and non-clinical facilities more effectively, protecting employees and patients, improving work practices, and reducing costs.

Recognized as one of the leading health systems in the US, nonprofit Banner Health is headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona and operates 29 hospitals – including three academic medical centers and other related health entities and services – across six states. With more than 50,000 employees it is the largest private employer in Arizona.

In addition to waste anesthetic gases such as nitrous oxide, desflurane, sevoflurane, and isoflurane, health care facilities need to be able to monitor levels of gases such as formaldehyde, ortho-phthaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, xylene(s), methylmethacrylate, hydrogen peroxide, acetic acid, formic acid, methanol, ethanol, isopropanol and acetone.

These gases present a variety of health risks. For example, formaldehyde exposure can cause irritation and burning of the nose and throat, irritation of mucous membranes, burning of the skin, coughing, and vomiting, while anesthetic gases can interfere with reproduction.

Dee Huddleston, industrial hygiene associate director at Banner Health and her colleague Valerie Brodeur (senior industrial hygienist) have been using a DX4040 FTIR gas analyzer – the predecessor of Gasmet’s GT5000 Terra – since January 2020.

“We operate in a highly regulated sector and adhere to the strict environment of care standards,” explains Huddleston. “The areas where we use the analyzer most extensively are in our clinical and pathology laboratories, as well as perioperative services (where care is provided before, during and after surgery).” These labs and procedure rooms are subject to regular inspection.

The DX4040 has proved particularly useful in the operating room environment to ensure staff is not over-exposed to waste anesthetic gases. “We usually only identify a leak when the anesthesia laryngeal mask is not sealed properly, a simple adjustment that reduces employee exposure and improves patient care,” explains Huddleston.

Vital part of the work

Huddleston and Brodeur spend up to 60% of their time in Banner Health’s hospitals checking indoor air quality. The DX4040 has become so important to their work that they have named it ‘Baby Hudd’ and it is now a familiar sight for patients and staff alike.

“The analysis we undertake has also been helpful in correcting some employee behavior, for example by making staff aware of the risk of placing saturated formalin 10% rags into waste bins without closing the lid,” says Huddleston, who explains that there were several reasons for choosing Gasmet technology.

“We knew it would improve our employee engagement scores because they no longer have to wait two weeks for a result from a passive monitor that may only be 20-25% accurate – now I can tell them what their exposure is based on a single, 60-second scan. It has also significantly reduced the number of passive badges we use as well as the cost of shipping these badges for analysis.”

banner health índustrial hygieneDee Huddleston (left), industrial hygiene associate director at Banner Health and her colleague Valerie Brodeur, senior industrial hygienist.

Reliability and accuracy are the key features

Dylan Staack, an industrial hygienist and instrumentation specialist with REPSS (Gasmet’s local representative) notes that with the discontinuation of the Miran SapphIRe there is no other device that can match the capacity of the DX4040 to test for waste anesthetic gases in operating rooms.

“Reliability and accuracy are vital features for users of this device, who appreciate the value of results on-demand,” he says. “Health care providers and consultants who use it are getting something that is so much better than any alternative passive or even active sampling solution.”

The ability to produce immediate test results is extremely important for health and safety. When employees have to wait for the results of analysis they find it difficult to relate the results to their everyday work – showing them immediately how dangerous their exposure was has a much greater impact, concludes Staack.


Anesthetic Waste Gas Monitoring

Real time results and low detection limits are essential when monitoring WAGs in operating rooms, dental facilities and veterinaries. Healthcare institutions have come to rely on our FTIR gas analyzers in this crucial area.

Learn more about effective WAGs monitoring