The most useful snippets from our authors, all in one place. DEPTH discusses topics of diving, equipment and environment, physics and physiology, technique and technology, and hyperbarics.
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The 2 Aspects of Hyperbaric Safety

Learn Hyperbaric Facility Safety

There are two distinct aspects to the field of hyperbaric medicine that influence safety: 

  • Technology (hardware)
  • The operators of that technology (software). 

HBO2 is a technology-based therapy, supported There are two distinct aspects to the field of hyperbaric medicine that influence safety: technology (hardware) and the operators of that technology (software). HBO2 is a technology-based therapy, supported by a long history of engineering and manufacturing refinement. The military and commercial diving roots of hyperbarics resulted in an initial pool of technologists who were trained to rigorous standards. Many of the pioneers in the field transitioned to the clinical and research sides of hyperbarics and brought a strong culture of operational safety. 

Codes and standards related to the design, manufacturing, and installation of hyperbaric chambers are well-established and have broad distribution worldwide. Even in countries that don’t have a mandatory regulatory scheme, end users can easily access and reference construction standards that will provide a chamber that is constructed in accordance with a proven safety record. One challenge posed by the existing standards is that due to the inherent inertia of the code/standard-writing process, the introduction of new materials and technologies often outstrips the code/standard process, resulting in the potential for stifling of innovation or the introduction of new technologies that might not be fully proven. Even in countries with a strong regulatory climate, it is not uncommon to see chamber designs that pose substantial risks due to their design or construction in widespread use. The bottom line is a chamber built, installed, operated, and maintained in accordance to accepted standards is rarely a factor in accidents. 

Human factors—acts of omission or commission—play a role in the majority of hyperbaric safety-related incidents. The demographic change in the background of the people who operate chambers poses a great risk to the field. The growth of the field since the early 1990s resulted in a thinning of the experienced talent pool and the rise of a new generation of hyperbaric technologists. The risk- and cost-averse nature of modern health care has further restricted the use of HBO2 predominately to medically-stable patients treated in an outpatient setting. The number of clinical facilities with the staff and equipment capability to manage seriously ill patients has dropped precipitously (at least in the United States), resulting in the need to transfer patients hundreds of miles to receive lifesaving treatment. Without a mandate to treat acute indications, facilities reduce technical staff, support equipment, and the specialized training necessary to provide high-level care is leading the hyperbaric field into a crisis of experience. The “old hands” (technologist and physician pioneers) in the field who set the bar for HBO2 and were the fearless innovators who pushed the envelope of HBO2 applications, are leaving the field due to retirement (or death). The challenge to the new generation of hyperbaric professionals is to preserve the institutional memory of the first generation and transmit it to the successors. 

Learn More About Hyperbaric Facility Safety

1) Enroll in Introduction to the Role of Hyperbaric Safety Director courseFind a course here

2) Read Hyperbaric Facility Safety: A Practical Guide, 2nd Edition

Learn Codes and Standards: 

In the course and the book, we look at the codes and standards that influence our field. Depending upon your location in the world, as many as 15 or more agencies’ codes, standards, regulations, or laws may need to be conformed with in order for a facility to operate. Chapters cover the regulatory environment and take an in-depth look at the various systems that make up the modern hyperbaric chamber. We have also revamped information on the international aspects of the regulatory environment. Contributors from around the world completed a questionnaire that surveyed the practice of hyperbaric medicine in their respective countries. This data has been summarized in a table, with explanatory notes as required. 

Learn How to Development of a State-Of-The-Art Hyperbaric Safety Program

The second focus area of the book takes a nuts-and-bolts approach to hyperbaric safety. Utilizing the expertise of key figures in the hyperbaric field, the reader will find a comprehensive compendium of resources that can be useful toward the development of a state-of-the-art hyperbaric safety program. In the course you will learn how to implement the components of a hyperbaric faciltiy safety program.

Find a course here


Reference: Hyperbaric Facility Safety: A Practical Guide, 2nd Edition


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