The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a categorical waiver allowing the use of power strips in new and existing healthcare facility patient care rooms, if the provider/supplier is in compliance with all applicable 2012 Life Safety Code (LSC) power strip requirements and with all other 2000 LSC electrical system and equipment provisions.

What are the power strip requirements and provisions that need to be met in the CMS categorical waiver? According to the September 26, 2014 CMS memo entitled, Categorical Waiver for Power Strips Use in Patient Care Areas (Ref: S&C: 14-46-LSC), power strips may be used in the patient care room and vicinity for patient-care-related electrical equipment if they meet the following conditions:

  • Mounting: Power strips must be permanently mounted to electrical equipment such as mobile carts, IV poles and other movable equipment, with clamps, mounting tabs, flanges, or any other means. In addition, their flexible cords must be secured so they do not become a tripping hazard.
  • Unused Outlets: After leakage currents have been tested, the power strip’s unused outlets must be secured (e.g., self-locking covers) in order to prevent the connection of unauthorized devices or non-medical equipment.
  • Protective Features: Power strips must contain protective features, including internal ground fault circuit interruption (GFCI) and over-current protection.
  • UL Standards: For patient-care-related electrical equipment, power strips must meet UL 1363A or UL 60601-1 standards as Special Purpose Relocatable Power Taps (SPRPT). For non-patient-care-related electrical equipment, they must meet UL 1363 as Relocatable Power Taps (RPT).
  • Non-Medical Usage: Non-medical devices, such as personal electronic equipment, cannot be plugged into a power strip in the patient care vicinity; however, they may be used outside of the patient care vicinity for non-medical use.
  • Maintenance: The electrical equipment that uses the power strip must be inspected within a regular maintenance program for electrical/mechanical integrity (e.g. the casing, power cords, safety covers, and circuit breakers, etc.).

Note: “Patient care room” has replaced the term “patient care area” in the 2012 NFPA 99 and is defined as a treatment or examination room in a healthcare facility. A patient care vicinity is a location within a patient care room that extends 6 ft. beyond a bed, table or other device, and vertically 7 ft. 6 in. above the floor.