Q: Are portable fans permitted in patient care areas? At times, a patient may become too warm and the normal HVAC system does not provide adequate cooling.
A: The use of portable fans in patient care areas has evolved to become more of an Infection Control issue than a physical environment issue. Most accreditation organizations do not have specific standards that prohibit the use of portable fans in patient care areas, but that does not mean you can. You need to develop a policy or process whereby your Infection Control practitioner evaluates the risks associated with the use of fans in patient care areas, and establishes their position. The major concern is the potential of the fans to spread airborne contaminants around in the area where used; and whether the fan was cleaned before each use. Fans may also be a red flag to surveyors that a temperature control or ventilation problem exists, which can impact equipment and overall patient care. The issue of the cords needs to be addressed so they are not a tripping hazard, and floor-mounted portable fans cannot be set on top of other equipment, such as tables or chairs.