Ball in the wall type room pressure indicators are commonly seen throughout hospitals, outpatient surgical centers and many other environments monitoring air pressure. These devices are very basic; consisting of a red or green “ping-pong” ball in a tube of plastic. If the tube is installed properly they do a great job in providing a visual indicator that a room is maintaining either positive or negative pressure. They can not tell what the pressure actually is but they can indicate a pressure differential exists.
Maintaining room pressure (negative or positive) is crucial to patient and worker safety in many places. In a hospital setting, negative pressure isolation rooms are used to keep sick patients with communicable diseases like COVID-19 (Coronavirus) from spreading to the hospital staff, other patients and the general public. If the system used to monitor negative pressure in these rooms fails, it can lead to the quick spread of disease. Negative pressure rooms are also used to prevent the spreading of dangerous medications like chemotherapy drugs, preventing exposure to harmful medications.
Positive pressure rooms are used to keep outside particles out of the controlled/positive pressure area. These would be surgical rooms, laboratories and patient rooms. Surgical rooms need to be as clean as possible to prevent bacteria, viruses or any organic/inorganic particles from entering the room. The introduction of foreign particulates into a positive pressure room/surgical room puts patients at risk of infection leading to severe illness. Positive pressure rooms are designed to continually move clean filtered air into the room.
It is critical to maintain exact pressure levels at all times in both positive and negative pressure rooms or other controlled environments to ensure patient and public safety.
Drawbacks to using Ball In The Wall pressure indicators
Perhaps one of the most important features any pressure monitor or indicator should have is the ability to report precise room pressure levels in real time. In critical environments, it isn’t enough to have a “yes/no” answer. Controlled environments are specifically designed by engineers, architects, scientists and other experts to maintain very specific pressure levels. In order for the room/area to maintain efficacy, these pressure levels must remain consistent and stable. The ball in the wall pressure indicators are not designed to provide these real-time numbers. However, most modern digital, integrated solutions can provide this data.