top of page
  • Writer's pictureTim Spears

Mitigating Lithium Ion Battery Risks in Healthcare Facilities: A Case Study from Royal Free Hospital

At the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, London, an unexpected event triggered a full-scale emergency response. An outpatient day ward became the scene of a fire caused by an exploding vape battery inside a visitor's backpack. Approximately 40 people, including patients and staff, were swiftly evacuated by the hospital team, demonstrating excellent emergency preparedness and teamwork. Fortunately, the fire was extinguished quickly by a staff member before the fire brigade's arrival, and there were no serious injuries reported.

Report from NBC News on E-Cigarettes

Understanding Lithium Ion Battery Hazards in Healthcare Settings

Lithium ion batteries are common in many personal electronic devices, including the vape equipment implicated in this incident. Their susceptibility to failure can lead to dangerous fires, particularly concerning in environments like healthcare facilities. These locations are considered "target hazards" by FEMA, essential for community welfare and requiring stringent safety measures to mitigate any potential risks.

Proactive and Reactive Safety Measures

Healthcare facilities can adopt several strategies to manage the risks posed by personal electronic devices and their batteries:

Proactive Measures:

  • Policy on Personal Electronic Devices: Implementing clear guidelines on where devices may be used or charged and restricting use in high-risk areas.

  • Safety Information and Signage: Posting signs that inform of the risks and proper handling procedures for devices with lithium ion batteries.

  • Education: Training staff on how to respond if a device begins to malfunction or poses a fire risk.

Reactive Measures:

  • Emergency Response Kits: Placement of fire suppression tools and protective equipment at strategic locations.

  • Immediate Response Protocol: Developing specific procedures for incidents involving personal electronic devices, including isolation and evacuation protocols.

  • Incident Reporting: Encouraging immediate reporting of any device malfunction or overheating.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the risks of lithium ion batteries in healthcare settings?

A: Lithium ion batteries can overheat and catch fire, particularly dangerous in healthcare environments where patient safety and care continuity are most important.

Engage with Us How does your facility manage the risks associated with personal electronic devices? Share your strategies and learn from peers in the comment section below!

A Call for Continuous Improvement

The incident at the Royal Free Hospital underscores the critical need for ongoing education, preparedness, and policy review concerning the use of personal electronic devices in healthcare settings. By proactively managing these risks, healthcare facilities can safeguard against similar emergencies, ensuring a safe environment for patients and staff alike.


Mirror Online. (2024, May 3). Exploding vape battery caused fire with 40 people evacuated from busy major hospital. Retrieved from


bottom of page