An electrical safety test for medical equipment helps prevent the hazards of using defective or improperly grounded electric medical equipment.  The inspection is a test to insure that the hospital equipment is working within the acceptable safety parameters set out by the NFPA 99, Standards for Healthcare Facilities for devices that are being used within the patient care areas of a hospital, medical office or surgery center.

Where Bio-Medical Electric Testing Originated.

The origins of the Bio-Medical Safety Inspection go way back to the early days of electrical equipment, where it was known as the Standardized Electrical Leakage Tests. The devices used in operating rooms and medical centers, such as an electrocardiograph, were thoroughly tested for the safety of the patient and those who handled the machines. Many of these machines gave off minute amounts of electricity known at the time as “Electricity Leakage”, though this was not alarming and most machines were found to be safe for use. However, these machines were tested separately. Eventually, research was done on these devices in a group, and it was discovered that the Electricity Leakage was substantially greater to the point where the “leaked” electricity added up to become a dangerous dose of electric current. This especially posed a serious risk to the patient, since the patient was usually grounded and extremely vulnerable to current due to sub-coetaneous operations.

The Underwriter’s Laboratories pioneered the study on this matter and wrote Standards limiting the maximum amount of “Electrical Leakage” which should be allowed for medical equipment under various situations. Today, almost all cord connected equipment has a third wire cord and plug, known as a ground wire, to drain any of this “leakage”. But, there still remains some concern. Since the wire is part of a flexible cord and subjected to wear and tear, it raises the question: What if the third wire fractures? Since the other two wires would still be active there would be no indication of change in the machine, except for the patient now possibly receiving a nasty shock.

Safety Grounding and Leakage Testing:

During a Bio-Medical Inspection, the “electrical leakage” in that ground wire, now known as Touch Current, is measured and tested to regulation standards. With annual tests, patient harm by shock can easily be avoided, and that is why these inspections have become institutionalized. For equipment, is installed or hardwired into the building, leakage current shall be tested prior to installation while the equipment is temporarily insulated from ground. The leakage current from frame to ground of permanently. Current from frame to ground of hardwired fixed equipment within critical patient care areas should not exceed 5.0 milliamperes with all grounds lifted. For portable equipment, chassis leakage current cannot exceed 300 microamperes. This is measured with an electrical safety analyzer.

Ground Fault Outlet (GFCI) Testing

GCFI outlets are often installed in a nursing home or patient hospital rooms that have a bathroom within the patient room or care area. GCFI monitors the ground current and interrupts the power when the ground current exceeds 6mA. These are tested with a GFCI tester to insure they trip as they are designed to.

Electrical Outlet Tension Testing

Electrical Tension testing is a test on the outlets that are with-in the Operating/Recovery room and patient care areas this is a test that permits that the outlets have a retention force that meets the requirements.

These are all tests that are performed during a Bio-Med Inspection.

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