When you go to a doctor’s office, outpatient clinic or hospital, you take it for granted that not only are you going to receive quality care from a medical professional, but also that they equipment on which they rely to provide this quality care will be both safe and functional.

While it’s true that certain time-tested equipment is largely immune to any sort of mechanical mishaps, the same can’t necessarily be said of those tools that have been present in exam rooms and operating rooms for shorter intervals.

If you have a hard time believing it, consider that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently issued a warning to health care facilities around the country about a potentially dangerous situation involving mobile medical carts outfitted with high capacity lithium or lead acid batteries that are otherwise designed to power both computers and medical devices for hours at a time.

Specifically, the FDA has received multiple reports of the batteries found in many of these ubiquitous mobile medical carts — used for everything from medication dispensing to patient resuscitation — smoking from overheating and even igniting.

Amplifying the already serious danger that smoke and fire present to patients, staff and visitors, say FDA officials, is the fact that conflagrations involving lithium batteries are notoriously difficult for firefighters to put out, meaning the risk of fire spreading is amplified. Indeed, the agency reports that firefighters in several states have been forced to bury mobile medical carts in order to extinguish the blaze.

In light of this very real danger, the FDA is advising health care facilities to take some of the following actions:

Inspect the batteries charging mobile medical carts for indications of damage, such as cracking, bulging or swelling
Inspect the chargers and the carts outfitted with chargers for signs of overheating components
Vacuum dust and lint found near or on batteries and/or chargers
Replace malfunctioning batteries
Notify manufacturers of damaged batteries or charging components
Here’s hoping health care facilities heed these warnings …

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured by malfunctioning medical equipment or any other form of medical negligence, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional to learn more about your options for seeking justice.