power protection components for healthcare systems

How To Match Your Power Protection Components To Your Healthcare System Requirements

The specialised functions of healthcare facilities, from GP surgeries through to large-scale hospitals, require complex power protection components to maintain critical power supply.  

Healthcare facilities 

There are many sectors within the healthcare industry that provide various levels of care and rely on power critical medical components. These include: 

  • Hospitals
  • Outpatient surgeries
  • Doctors’ offices
  • Care clinics
  • Nursing homes

Equipment for healthcare systems

Healthcare facilities require a vast array of electrical equipment for day-to-day running, all of which depend on power protection components. While some of these are directly related to patient care, all equipment will play some role in the overall healthcare of patients at the facility. The equipment includes (among others): 

  • Clinical equipment in operating suites, cardiac wards, accident and emergency units, maternity wards, MRI departments and outpatients, among others. 
  • The medical IT and communications’ equipment including computers, server rooms and data centres. 
  • Building management and emergency services.

Restoration for electrical failure

The reality is that an electrical system can fail at any time, posing dire risks to patient health and safety. This is why power protection systems have to be installed and the design approach will depend on the risk level of each sector. The higher the risk, the faster the electrical supply restoration times needed.  The time delays experienced in backup power supply are:

  • Greater than 15 seconds
  • Between 5 and 15 seconds 
  • Between 0.5 and 5 seconds 
  • Less than 0.5 second
  • No break, in power

Backup power supply options

When it comes to healthcare backup solutions, the aforementioned time lags need to be weighed against the risk to patient welfare. There are two main types of backup power solutions for healthcare equipment:

1. Standby generators 

Diesel or gas generators are used to meet the power demands of the healthcare industry for long-term power outages. These can be tasked with running a variety of operations where the loss of electrical supply is limited to a 15-second delay. Diesel and gas generators are commonly used with many hospitals opting for gas generators because of the clean-burning fuel. For healthcare centres, in particular, there are specifically-designed generator elements, such as: 

  • Generator skid: used in hospitals and large clinics with a high-power demand. These generators have an external fuel supply and exhaust connections so need a dedicated room. 
  • Sound-attenuated enclosure: the generator is mounted to a framework and enclosed in a sound-attenuated container to maintain adequate noise levels.
  • Portable: these can be moved from location to location within a healthcare centre and are often a temporary option when the main generator is in for repairs.

2. An uninterruptible power supply (UPS)

For critical healthcare backup solutions where an electrical supply interruption could compromise patient safety and welfare, then a UPS is installed. Power protection devices for hospital power backup are of a higher standard than those for commercial use, ensuring a consistent stream of power in any circumstance. The UPS power backup device differs from a generator in that, in the event of a power outage, the UPS will provide near-instantaneous protection through the energy stored in the UPS batteries. The UPS is, undeniably, a power critical medical component that ensures the power supplying life-saving apparatus functions at optimum levels.

To determine exactly which power protection components are needed to meet your particular healthcare system requirements, there are a number of elements that need to be considered. These include the level of risk associated with any delay in power; guidelines and regulations in terms of healthcare standards; integration of backup power solutions with legacy equipment; and even suitable storage space. Aspects such as maintenance and equipment servicing also need to be considered. It’s vital that you consult with industry professionals to ensure you have the optimum healthcare backup solution for quality patient care. 

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