How to Provide Compliant Power to Patient Care Areas

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Power is an obvious essential for healthcare facilities. Medical staff rely on it to ensure optimal patient care, and patients depend on it for comfort and recovery. Medical-grade power strips are an effective way for healthcare facilities to achieve reliable power that complies with industry standards.

Updated Standards Are Changing the Industry

In 2014, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a categorical waiver allowing healthcare facilities to use power strips in patient care areas under certain circumstances. Three specific UL standards (UL 60601-1, UL 1363 and UL 1363A) were identified for compliance with the CMS waiver.

According to the categorical waiver, the 2000 edition of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 101 Line Safety Code (LSC) included power strip requirements for healthcare facilities that “may result in unreasonable hardship for providers or suppliers.” The LSC 2012 edition was updated to remove those requirements and now allows some uses of power strips in patient care areas.

Power strips can provide reliable, safe power to your facility. Learn what qualifies as a medical-grade power strip and if your healthcare facility can use them.

What is a medical-grade power strip?

As technology advances and demand for electricity in patient care facilities increases, medical-grade power strips provide a solution to increase access to a power source. Medical-grade power strips are outlet strips designed for patient care areas. Power strips are an efficient solution when wall socket availability is limited. They also provide multiple electric outlets at once and have only one outlet to support.

Medical-grade power strips are intended for use inside of patient care areas. They work especially well within a six-foot perimeter of the patient, also known as the patient care vicinity. Medical-grade power strips must meet the following criteria:

  • Adherence to one or more of the following safety standards: UL 60601-1, IEC 60601-1-1, EN 60601-1, CAN/CSA C22.2 No.601-1-M90, CAN/CSA C22.2 No.601.1S1-94, and CAN/CSA C22.2 No.601.1B-98
  • Power strips must contain splash-resistant outlet covers that can only be opened with tools. This ensures patient safety. Outlet covers are required by UL to prevent the inadvertent connection of equipment with standard plugs by unqualified personnel.

Verify that leakage current and other critical specifications meet medical standards. If there are no leakage current specifications, the strips may not be approved for medical use. Medical-grade power strips should not be confused with power strips that simply contain hospital-grade plugs and receptacles. However, those types of strips may be used outside of patient care areas within a healthcare facility.

What are patient care areas, and how can they impact your facility?

A patient care vicinity is the area directly around the patient that is intended for examination and treatment. A patient care vicinity extends 6 feet (1.8 meters) beyond the normal location of the bed, chair, table, treadmill, or other device that supports the patient during examination and treatment. This area also extends vertically 7.5 feet (2.3 meters) above the floor.

Patient Care Room

Any room of a healthcare facility where patients are examined or treated is considered to be a patient care room. Patient care rooms can be divided into four categories, including:

Basic Care Room: This is a room where equipment or system failure is not likely to cause injury or death of patients or caregivers. This includes examination or treatment rooms in clinics, medical and dental offices, nursing homes, and limited-care facilities.

General Care Room: This is a room where equipment or system failure is likely to cause minor injury or death of patients or caregivers. This includes inpatient bedrooms, dialysis rooms, procedural rooms, and similar rooms.

Critical Care Room: This is a room where equipment or system failure is likely to cause major injury or death of patients or caregivers. This includes rooms where patients undergo invasive procedures and are connected to line-operated, patient-care-related appliances. Examples are intensive care or critical care rooms, operating rooms, delivery rooms, and trauma rooms.

Support Room: This is a room where equipment or system failure is not likely to have a physical impact on patients or caregivers. Examples include waiting rooms, utility rooms, laboratories and morgues.

Know the Right Standards for Your Facility

National codes and standards keep patients, personnel and facilities safe. Here are some codes and standards related to the use of medical-grade power strips in your healthcare facility. Review these standards to ensure that you are providing power in the safest way possible.

NFPA 99 – Health Care Facilities Code: Understand the levels of healthcare services based on risk to patients, staff or visitors in healthcare facilities. Use this information to minimize fire, explosion and electricity hazards. This code discusses installation, inspection, testing, maintenance, performance and safe practices for facilities, material, equipment and appliances.

NFPA 70 (National Electric Code) Article 517 – Health Care Facilities: This article applies to electrical construction and installation criteria in healthcare facilities. The requirements apply to single-function and multifunction buildings.

UL 60601-1 – Medical Electrical Equipment, Part 1: General Requirements for Safety: Learn the general requirements for medical electrical equipment safety.

UL 60950-1 – Information Technology Equipment – Safety, Part 1: General RequirementsUse this information to reduce risks of fire, electric shock or injury to personnel who operate equipment in your facility.

UL 1363A – Special Purpose Relocatable Power Taps: Learn the requirements for using Special Purpose Relocatable Power Taps (SPRPT) in general patient areas or critical patient care areas. Use SPRPT to supply power to movable equipment that is rack-, table-, or pedestal mounted.

UL 1449 3rd Edition – Surge Protective Devices: These requirements cover surge protective devices designed for repeated limiting of transient voltage surges on 50 or 60 Hz power circuits not exceeding 1000 V.

Successfully Incorporate Power Strips Into Your Healthcare Applications

In today's healthcare facilities, it's more important than ever to have reliable, safe access to power. With updated codes and standards, we can access more power through medical-grade power strips. Choose the right power strips to ensure that your healthcare facility is compliant with the most up-to-date safety regulations. Safeguard your patients and personnel with the right electrical equipment for your facility.

The opinions expressed in this piece are solely Leviton's. They do not necessarily represent WESCO’s views.

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