August 12, 2010 | | Comments 0
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Safety considerations for electrical receptacles on metal stands

Q: Is it feasible to place a small device that is plugged into an electrical receptacle on a metal stand? The device is for urodynamics and measures the patient’s volume of urine and the flow rate. When I look at how it is set up, I feel there could be a chance of an electrical shock to the operator or the patient if a short develops. Please direct me to the code or the proper reference.

A: Actually, this type of thing would  fall under NFPA 99 Standard for Healthcare Facilities, and a little bit of OSHA as a function of NFPA 70 National Electrical Code.

Strictly speaking, the type of device described would nominally be considered medical equipment and thus require some sort of safety testing/preventative maintenance. To be honest, the first thing I would do is an electrical safety test of the device to see if it’s properly functioning. Metal stand or no metal stand, a piece of medical equipment with a short in its wiring is dangerous and puts staff and patients at risk.

The risk assessment would come in once you’ve determined whether or not the device is performing within manufacturer specifications; then you could look at whether the device should be placed on some sort of non-conductive matting on top of the metal stand (an idea that I think might be just the ticket on this one).

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Filed Under: OSHA

Steve MacArthur About the Author: Steve MacArthur is a safety consultant with The Greeley Company in Danvers, Mass. He brings more than 30 years of healthcare management and consulting experience to his work with hospitals, physician offices, and ambulatory care facilities across the country. He is the author of HCPro's Hospital Safety Director's Handbook and is contributing editor for Briefings on Hospital Safety. Contact Steve at

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