Equipment Consulting

Water Damage to a Surgical Suite

28 April 2023

In early 2015, a surgical suite and storage room filled with medical equipment were exposed to water due to an overhead pipe break. A frozen sprinkler head burst on the third floor, soaking the rooms below. Following the loss, the insured claimed all the equipment as requiring replacement with new at a cost of nearly $610,000. 

Envista was retained to determine the cause and extent of damage sustained by the claimed systems and the cost to return the systems to a pre-loss condition. In order to obtain concise information regarding these systems, Envista performed an onsite inspection at the insured’s facility soon after the loss occurred.  

Envista’s equipment experts inspected the facility and found that following the pipe break, the two locations showed signs of splashing from water. It was determined that only portions of the equipment had been exposed to water and all the equipment had been powered off and remained powered off since the loss. Additionally, no observable rust or corrosion was found on the equipment.  

Although the majority of the equipment showed signs of exposure, given the condition of the equipment, the pieces of equipment were all great candidates for restoration to a pre-loss condition through decontamination.  

Damage from Contaminated Water 

Water, by itself, causes almost no damage to electronic circuitry. In fact, printed circuit boards are usually cleaned in water during the manufacturing process. However, only deionized water is non-conductive. Most water is highly conductive because of its contaminants. A wet computer, or any other electronic instrument, should never be powered on or the risk of electrical damage becomes very high. 

Additionally, contaminated water leaves behind mineral deposits, which are conductive, salt-based compounds. With the electrical power on, these new, unwanted conductive paths made by salts and water can cause damaging short circuits, or at the very least, reroute electrical signals, causing errors in performance. 

Professional Decontamination of Equipment 

Envista recommended professional equipment decontamination to remove the contamination and particulate, which accomplishes two goals. First, it ensures that further damage will not occur due to corrosion or the inability to restore the proper cooling of the devices as designed. Second, if there are errors present, this decontamination allows service representatives to properly diagnose and repair components should there be a need.  

Envista obtained a quotation for restoration of the equipment from AREPA to decontaminate and restore the equipment for just over $40,000, in contrast to the claimed amount of over $600,000 to replace. This yielded an indemnity accuracy of over $560,000 for the client or a 92% reduction. 

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About The Author
Brad Davis
Brad Davis, PE
Assistant Technical Director

Mr. Brad Davis is a Professional Engineer with over 20 years of experience providing expert consultation to the insurance and legal communities in matters of equipment losses, equipment valuation, damage assessment, and causation analysis. 

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