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Electrical Power Isolation in Hospitals

Protecting patients and staff from electrical shock has always been a major concern within the healthcare community. With the introduction of more electronic based equipment, leakage current within cord connected equipment has become extremely important as cardiac arrest happens at leakage current levels of 5 milliamperes. The 2012 Edition of the NFPA 99 Healthcare Facilities Code reflects the new format for determining the level of protection.

Medical grade equipment must be tested and certified to insure that this equipment does not have leakage currents that are in excess of industry standards. As our culture becomes more dependent on the use of technology however, non-medical grade equipment such as smartphones, tablets, laptop computers, portable printers, and battery chargers, become more pervasive in the hospital environment. These devices have not been tested and certified to the same level of standards as the medical grade equipment and therefore can put patients and staff at risk.

Power cords and strips used to connect medical grade equipment must also be tested and certified per IEC 60601-1 in order to be sold as a medical grade device. When used in conjunction with medical grade equipment to connect this equipment to an AC power source, they provide the necessary isolation to protect the patient and staff coming in contact with the equipment. These cords and strips, however, do not provide electrical isolation for any non-medical grade equipment.

To insure that patients and staff are protected, an isolation transformer can be installed between the AC power and the equipment. Doing this not only protects patients and staff when non-medical grade equipment is used, it also provides an additional layer of protection should the isolation within the medical grade equipment degrade due to aging, a defective power strip or cord, or spillage of fluids.

On our Custom Endoscopy Cart product, we offer an isolation transformer as an option. This device is mounted directly on the cart and when used, provides complete electrical isolation of all equipment used on the cart.

When you consider the cost of a possible injury or death, the use of an isolation transformer is an inexpensive insurance policy.

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