The Benefits of Antimicrobial Power Strips for Healthcare Facilities

Tripp Lite Antimicrobial power strip outlet view

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate nearly two million hospital patients in the U.S. annually contract a healthcare-acquired infection (HAI), at a cost over $36 million a year.

Frequently, HAIs are spread through cross-contamination when objects are handled by multiple people. Any object in a healthcare setting touched by staff, patients or visitors becomes a potential breeding ground for harmful microbes such as C. diff and MRSA. The threat of HAIs is especially significant within the patient-care vicinity, where patients receive their treatments.

Hidden Sources of HAIs

Think of frequently handled objects in a hospital and what likely comes to mind are door handles, light switches and elevator buttons. Not so obvious are objects used in the treatment of patients that may need to be moved from one room to another, thus increasing the chances of transferring bacteria and viruses. Medical facilities often use carts holding equipment that needs to be plugged in. The assembly on the cart may include a special-purpose relocatable power strip, also known as a power strip.
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The Misuse of Power Strips in Healthcare Facilities

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Just the other day, a call came in from a hospital that didn’t understand why they needed to purchase medical-grade and hospital-grade power strips instead of generic $5 strips from a local big box store for their patient-care and non-patient areas. Because there is nothing in regulatory code that provides clear language to guide hospitals on the need and usage of safe, compliant power strips and other power products, most facilities are in the dark and the consequences can be catastrophic and expensive.

Here’s a typical scenario. A few months back, we conducted a compliance walk-through in a Midwestern healthcare facility. The objective was to look for and make note of non-compliant areas in regards to the technology and installation of power strips and other power protection systems. This started in the basement with the biomedical folks telling us that they didn’t use many power strips in the facility. We walked through less than 5% of the facility and found over 30 strips. They were found in patient rooms hooked up to TVs, computers, monitors, nurses’ stations both hidden and exposed, and on carts and IV poles. In the OR, power strips were on at least one third of the medical equipment.  Some non-compliant examples included: non-compliant, daisy-chained strips on a Da Vinci machine, office-grade UPS systems in the patient-care vicinity with a grounding wire but no consideration of leakage current, and power strips on IV poles with corrosion and dirty surge suppressors at the nurses stations.

The facility was shocked by how many power strips we sited and the misuse of them. The walk-through opened their eyes to the fact that power strips are a must in many circumstances, and that they need to develop a plan that includes both proper application and installation. Some healthcare facilities are receiving fines of up to $100,000 for installation and application violations. So if you’re a healthcare professional who can identify with this scenario, you should consider investing in compliant power strips for your facility.

Stay tuned for more information about how to avoid costly power usage fines in hospitals and other healthcare environments.