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Preventing the Spread of Disease: International Standard and Technical Report Offer Guidance on Fever-Screening Equipment

New York, May 19, 2009

As part of a worldwide effort to contain the spread of infectious diseases, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) have developed a Technical Report (TR) and International Standard that guide the use of medical equipment for fever screening. This equipment is critical in containing viruses such as influenza at key locations, including international airports.

ISO/TR 13154:2009, Medical electrical equipment – Deployment, implementation and operational guidelines for indentifying febrile humans using a screening thermograph, provides general guidelines for the effective use of a screening thermograph. IEC 80601-2-59:2008, Particular requirements for the basic safety and essential performance of screening thermographs for human febrile temperature screening, gives the technical requirements for this equipment.

These documents allow for increased pandemic preparedness, improving the operation and use of fever screening equipment to save lives and reduce the health impact of a pandemic, while minimizing disruption to business and daily life.

Screening thermographs can be used in locations with high public traffic such as entrances to hospitals and clinics, critical infrastructure facilities, workplaces, schools, government buildings, and public transport. When used effectively, they can alert officials to the risk of a virus’s spread, allowing them to take appropriate measures such as closing schools or quarantining suspected cases. Thermographs can also be used to define the geographical boundaries of an outbreak.

“The publication of the technical report is very timely given the current outbreak of H1N1 in several regions of the world,” said Dave Osborn, secretary of the ISO subcommittee that developed the documents. “Because panic can lead to misdirected energies that waste previous resources, the ISO technical report deserves high marks for providing an important first step in the face of outbreaks of influenza and other infectious diseases, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), tuberculosis, anthrax and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and other biological or bacterial agents whose early detection is vital.”

ISO/TR 13154:2009 and IEC 80601-2-59:2008 were developed by a Joint Working Group of ISO Technical Committee (TC) 121, Anaesthetic and respiratory equipment, subcommittee (SC) 3, Lung ventilators and related equipment, and IEC TC 62, Electrical equipment in medical practice, SC D, Electromedical equipment.

The U.S. holds the secretariat to ISO TC 121, SC 3, which the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has delegated to Mr. Osborn of Philips Medical Systems. The U.S. also holds the chairmanship of SC 3, with Professor J. Hedley Whyte of Harvard University leading the subcommittee. Finally, U.S. positions are carried forward to SC 3 by ASTM International, an ANSI member and audited designator, in their role as ANSI-accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) Administrator.

Secretariat duties for IEC TC 62, SC D are performed by Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI), an ANSI member and accredited standards developer. AAMI also serves as the U.S. National Committee (USNC)-approved U.S. TAG Administrator to SC D.

For more information, see the ISO news release.

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