The sheer amount of electrical equipment in hospitals increases the potential for deadly electrical shocks. Fortunately, there are several easy steps that any medical facility can take to prevent these hazards, protecting both patients and employees from harm.
Check for proper markings
A “CE” mark does not mean that a product has met safety requirements for electrical certification. An FDA-approved device has not been given electrical certification either. Only a mark from a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) such as TÜV Rheinland signifies that a product has been tested to such electrical safety standards as IEC 60101 and IEC 61010.
Build certification into the facility's procurement documentation
Most employees do not realise that there are special testing requirements and certifications for medical-grade electrical equipment. This can lead to many problems such as purchasing equipment without NRTL certification marks, or installing equipment in areas that they were not designed to be in.
These knowledge gaps can be covered by building a disclaimer into a purchase contract as simple as:
Equipment purchased by this facility must be Listed or Labeled by a NRTL and bear a factory certification mark. It will be the responsibility of the seller and/or manufacturer to ensure the equipment is certified or Field Evaluated, accepting the responsibility for any associated fees and modifications needed.
Empower hospital staff to ask, "Is this safety-certified?"
Most PC and computer component manufacturers include disclaimers on their products stating that their product does not meet medical grade safety standards. Yet well-intentioned staff often place these products in environments that they were not designed to withstand, trusting that others will have already ensured their safety. Employees should be given at least enough training to able to question whether the electrical products they intend to use are certified for use in the area that they are stationed.
Establish a field evaluation regimen
The most important action any medical facility can take is to employ the field evaluation services of a NRTL. On-site inspections and non-destructive testing (NDT) will not only catch any non-certified equipment from off-contract device acquisition, but also ensure the proper use of certified components.
Following these relatively simple actions can protect a facility from liability from any electrical incident. Ultimately, by ensuring the safety of the product, healthcare facilities and employee-only labs are decreasing the risk of harm to patients or employees.
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