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Mexico explosion renews safety issues

Hospital Safety Insider, March 26, 2015

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As a safety professional in a hospital, you've undoubtedly thought about fire and explosion safety in your facility on a regular basis. You don't really have a choice: To keep your facility open and accredited by The Joint Commission, you have to show that you are in compliance with national fire safety standards. For a real-life example of why these standards are needed in U.S. hospitals, just look at what happened in Mexico City on January 29.

A tanker truck that was reportedly delivering liquid petroleum gas to the kitchen area at Cuajimalpa Hospital, a maternal and children's hospital on the outskirts of the city, suddenly exploded, leveling about 60% of the hospital and killing five people and injuring dozens of the 100 or more people inside the facility. Initial media reports suggested that a hose on the delivery truck that was supplying the building sprung a leak. Firefighters were called to the hospital, and patients were apparently being evacuated from the building when the explosion occurred at around 7 a.m.

The New York Times reported that an investigation of the tanker truck found two worn-out bolts cracked, causing a gasket to blow out partially. The leak that followed allowed the gas to seep out into the neighborhood, and set off the fire and explosion. The report cited Mexico City officials, who said that one of the bolts was the wrong size and that the truck's meter had been altered to shortchange customers. In addition, the report said that wire and Teflon tape had been improperly used on parts of the truck's valves.

In the U.S., hospital safety experts following the news of the Mexico City explosion say it should bring attention to the dangers of combustible gases and chemicals in the healthcare industry, as well as trigger an immediate review of safety protocols.

This is an excerpt from an article in Briefings on Hospital Safety. Visit here to log in or subscribe.


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