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Archive for Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Accident prompts audit of inspection process

City to review how life-safety systems tested

April 29, 2009

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The city will conduct a comprehensive audit of its building inspection process after a Tonganoxie youth was seriously injured in an incident at a newly constructed Lawrence dentist office.

City commissioners were told at their Tuesday evening meeting that the city will review how it conducts and verifies a variety of life-safety inspections that are required as part of the building process.

“We’re obviously very serious about ensuring that life-safety systems are in place and are inspected prior to use,” said Scott McCullough, the city’s director of planning and development services.

The audit comes after allegations that an improperly installed medical gas system was to blame for a March 30 incident that left Tonganoxie High senior Austin Stone in a near comatose state. Stone was having his wisdom teeth removed at Dr. S. Kirk Vincent’s new dental office at 4811 Bob Billings Parkway when complications ensued.

The medical gas system is used to deliver oxygen and nitrous oxide. Vincent — in a letter to the city’s building inspection’s department — wrote that the accident was caused by improper installation of the medical gas lines, in which the individual manifolds used to connect the oxygen and nitrous oxide were transposed.

McCullough has confirmed that the city does not have a record of whether a required third-party inspection of the office’s medical gas system was conducted. But the city also has maintained it was not legally required to ensure such an inspection took place. Instead, it maintains that the code requires the private contractor to hire an inspection company to test the system, and then provide the building owner with certification that the test was done. Vincent said he was never provided with such certification, and was unaware that he should have received such certification.

Following the accident, the Journal-World conducted a review of how other area cities inspect medical gas systems, and found several cities require more thorough documentation than Lawrence.

On Tuesday, City Manager David Corliss told commissioners the city would conduct its own review of how the city should process a variety of key life-safety building inspections. The audit will review the best inspection practices of other cities, consult with International Code Council officials, and seek the advice of the city’s various advisory boards that oversee the myriad city building codes.

“We want to be comprehensive,” Corliss said. “It probably will be an ongoing process.”

McCullough said the department already has changed its policy regarding how medical gas inspections are handled. He said the city has created a new policy that the city must receive a copy of the medical gas inspection report before the city will issue an occupancy permit for the building.

McCullough said he will ask the city’s Board of Plumbers and Pipe Fitters in May to formally add that policy to the city’s plumbing code.

According to a Web site maintained by friends and family of Stone, as of last week, Stone was still at Kansas University Hospital in Kansas City, Kan., in a largely unresponsive state.

Family members previously have declined to comment directly on his condition.

In other city business, commissioners:

• accepted a recommendation from a study group that the city begin converting its public transit fleet over to a system that uses a mixture of traditional diesel and biodiesel fuels. The city also agreed to move ahead on purchasing two hybrid electric buses that will run on a combination of traditional diesel, biodiesel and electric-powered batteries. City commissioners later this summer will take final action to purchase the buses, which could arrive in about 18 months.

Comments

Michael Capra 5 years, 4 months ago

lets not forget that Action plumbing didnt have a licence to install the system to begin with so they couldnt get a third party inspection if they wanted to

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redmoonrising 5 years, 4 months ago

Then in good consciousness they shouldn't have installed them. More importantly, the building contractor who hired them should have checked before allowing them to do this if what you say is correct, 458. In the end, it is the contractor who is responsible for all the work being done and inspected properly. This is such a mixup of finger pointing but I'm glad to read that such an inspection report will now be required before occupancy. Should the dentist, who used these gases, have known that he required a ceritification? Why ddidn't the city require one before now when it involves people's lives? Are they all to blame? Unfortunately for this young man and his family, it does no good to remedy this after the fact. I'm sure a lot of people are holding their breath right now and rightfully so. While it doesn't sound as if this young man is doing well after so much time, I sincerely wish him a full recovery.

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mommy04 5 years, 4 months ago

This is a very unfortunate situation! My thoughts and prayers are with Austin's family. I too hope he makes a full recovery!! Dr. Vincent is a wonderful man and a very compassionate doctor. He has performed surgeries on me and my family members and we could not have asked for a better doctor.

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middlemgmt 5 years, 4 months ago

This poor young man is still struggling to recover and is still in the hospital and it happened 30 days ago. I can only imagine the stress and strain this has on the family. My prayers are with all of them.

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jafs 5 years, 4 months ago

Yes, and I don't see why we need thorough and ongoing research to tell us that obvious fact.

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mcks13 5 years, 4 months ago

McCollough '...it maintains that the code requires the private contractor to hire an inspection company to test the system'

Before such directed statements are made, one might want to read the code they are supposedly referencing so they are accurate comments....NFPA 99C 5.1.12

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Bob Forer 5 years, 4 months ago

Mommy, I couldn't agree with you more. Dr. Vincent is a top notch dental surgeon, and very caring. My dad has had two surgeries performed by the good doctor, and on the evening of both surgeries, he called us to inquire as to Dad's condition. A super guy as well. I am sure he had no fault in this tragic accident.

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medgasverifier 5 years, 4 months ago

mcks13, your statement is not correct. You are referring to only the installers test and a Level 1 (hospital) facility. The dental office in most probably a Level 3 facility. 2 different sets of tests are required.

In any case, both levels of medical facilities are required to have a record of the installers testing and the more extensive medical gas verifiers testing report. Installers in most states must be ASSE 6010 certified and verifiers must be ASSE 6030 certified. A verifier can also perform the installer's testing. The verifier must be independent of the installer, thus 3ed party. The verifier testing is much more involved then the installer's. A verifier must have specialized training, 2 years experience, pass a written test and test equipment demonstration, be retested very 3 years and uses specialized test instruments such as nitrous oxide and oxygen analyzers.

The medical gas system testing sections that apply to a Level 3 faculty for installers are NFPA 99 section 5.3.12.2 and for the verifier section 5.3.12.3.

NFPA 99 section 5.3.12.1.6 states that "The inspection and testing reports shall be submitted directly to the party that contracts for the testing, who shall submit the report through channels to the responsible authority and any others that are required." Local AHJ codes may also apply.

My thoughts and prays go out to Austin and his family.

A Medical Gas Verifier

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mcks13 5 years, 4 months ago

medgasverifier, thank you for your post and clarification. My point was rather to the position of that of the City and others that the contractor(s) were, by code, required to hire the 3rd party inspector for certification, under any level of med gas in 99c this 'party' is not specifically identified, only that someone different than the installer. The GC? the doctor? The dental equipment supplier? This is not defined...

5.3.12.1.10 Before piping systems are initially put into use, the Level 3 health care facility authority shall be responsible for ascertaining that the gas/vacuum delivered at each outlet/inlet is that shown on the outlet/inlet label and that the proper connecting fittings are installed for the specific gas/vacuum.

Medgasverifier, who is the healh care facility authority this item references? I bring this up only due to the comments by others who have already placed the blame and responsibility without any back up to their position…

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medgasverifier 5 years, 4 months ago

mcks13, For Level 3 medical gas installations, the independent 3ed party verification testing MUST be performed per NFPA 99 section "5.3.12.3.1.4 Verification testing shall be conducted by a party technically competent and experienced in the field of medical gas and vacuum system verification and meeting the requirements of ASSE 6030, Professional Qualifications for Medical gas Systems Testing."

See my comments above for a partial list of ASSE 6030 verifier qualifications.

A medical gas verifier

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