Meet the Challenges Ahead

  • Renée Duncan, UHMS Communications Coordinator
  • Volume 09 - Issue 2



In the late 1970s, there were fewer than 30 hyperbaric facilities operational in the United States. Most were either military, commercial or highly specialized research facilities. Today, an estimated 1,350-plus facilities are in operation.

Growth means change. We have seen the primary role of hyperbaric facilities transition from the treatment of diving-related disorders to providing essential primary and adjunctive treatments for multiple medical conditions. Refined research efforts will no doubt validate the continued effectiveness of HBO2 therapy and perhaps even support new indications for treatment.

In 2001, the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society took on the role of establishing a systematic means of quality assurance for hyperbaric facilities. It continues in this stewardship role with the publication of the UHMS Clinical Hyperbaric Facility Accreditation Manual, Fourth Edition, to help address these challenges of hyperbaric medicine in the 21st century.

Facility locations are changing.

From hospital-based centers to non-affiliated outpatient settings, some operations have appropriate medical supervision and others do not. Such gaps demand a formalized set of guidelines for operations.

Certification has become a must.

In the past, minimum recommended staffing/training standards did not exist. Now, they are an essential part of guidelines and recommended practices. Over the past decade, certification in hyperbaric technology and hyperbaric nursing has become a staffing requirement in many programs.

The UHMS Guidelines for Hyperbaric Facility Operations, Second Edition, first set these foundational standards of practice for hyperbaric medicine nearly two decades ago. Originally published in January 2000 as the UHMS Operations Committee Report, this was the Society’s first written guide related to training, responsibility, staffing, safety and quality assurance for hyperbaric facilities – and it laid the groundwork for the UHMS accreditation program. The latest update is at: hyperbaric-a-undersea-medicine/product/421-uhms- guidelines-for-hyperbaric-facility-operation-2nd-edition/ category_pathway-31.html

Challenges lie ahead.

The development of certification for physicians in Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine reflects a growing recognition of clinical hyperbaric medicine. It also reinforces the need for an institutional accreditation program for facilities like the UHMS Hyperbaric Facility Accreditation Program.As in any growth process, success has not come without bumps. Our specialty faces challenges now and in the future. Since the UHMS represents a broad constituency base for clinical hyperbaric medicine, the Society remains proactive in helping to ensure that quality is maintained within our specialty.

The work continues.

Download your new accreditation manual.* Have your guidelines book on hand. Schedule your facility for an accreditation survey at: accreditation/accreditation-for-hyperbaric-medicine.html

Make sure you’re part of the push: Demonstrate your commitment to patient care and facility safety through UHMS accreditation.

If you have questions, contact the UHMS HFA staff: Derall Garrett at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or Beth Hands at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. T: +210-404-1553 or toll-free at 877-533-8467.

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