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Power Quality for Healthcare Facilities

Power Quality for Healthcare Facilities

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Published by Hans De Keulenaer
The healthcare environment is made up of perhaps the most unusual combination of electronic loads found in any facility. Healthcare facilities not only rely upon commercial loads (such as computers, servers, and lighting system) and industrial loads (such as food preparation equipment, laundry equipment, medical gas systems, but also rely on electronic medical loads (that is, medical equipment to operate the facility and provide patient care services.

As in other facilities, when an electrical disturbance such as a voltage sag, voltage transient, or voltage swell reaches the service entrance of the healthcare facility or medical location, computers in the accounting department may shut down, and motor starters and contactors providing power to the air-conditioning and ventilation system may change the environment within the facility. Unlike other places, however, a patient’s life could be threatened when an aortic balloon pump trips off-line during a cardiovascular surgery. The costs associated with downtime can be staggering, but no bounded cost can be placed on the irreversible result of loosing a patient.

Building, electrical, and healthcare codes in the United States require that hospitals and other medical clinics have emergency power ready to activate upon the detection of a power quality problem and assume the load within 10 seconds of the detection. However, even though a generator may be used at a healthcare facility or medical location, it cannot be on-line to support critical medical equipment with an activated transfer switch in less than about 2 to 3 seconds at best. This duration of time might as well be forever in terms of the ability of electronic medical equipment to continue operating. In fact, an undervoltage as short as ¼ of a cycle (about 4 milliseconds) is often sufficient to confuse sensitive electronic devices.

This PQ TechWatch will introduce the typical problems found in healthcare facilities, enlighten the reader on some new issues, and provide practical guidelines for avoiding those problems.
The healthcare environment is made up of perhaps the most unusual combination of electronic loads found in any facility. Healthcare facilities not only rely upon commercial loads (such as computers, servers, and lighting system) and industrial loads (such as food preparation equipment, laundry equipment, medical gas systems, but also rely on electronic medical loads (that is, medical equipment to operate the facility and provide patient care services.

As in other facilities, when an electrical disturbance such as a voltage sag, voltage transient, or voltage swell reaches the service entrance of the healthcare facility or medical location, computers in the accounting department may shut down, and motor starters and contactors providing power to the air-conditioning and ventilation system may change the environment within the facility. Unlike other places, however, a patient’s life could be threatened when an aortic balloon pump trips off-line during a cardiovascular surgery. The costs associated with downtime can be staggering, but no bounded cost can be placed on the irreversible result of loosing a patient.

Building, electrical, and healthcare codes in the United States require that hospitals and other medical clinics have emergency power ready to activate upon the detection of a power quality problem and assume the load within 10 seconds of the detection. However, even though a generator may be used at a healthcare facility or medical location, it cannot be on-line to support critical medical equipment with an activated transfer switch in less than about 2 to 3 seconds at best. This duration of time might as well be forever in terms of the ability of electronic medical equipment to continue operating. In fact, an undervoltage as short as ¼ of a cycle (about 4 milliseconds) is often sufficient to confuse sensitive electronic devices.

This PQ TechWatch will introduce the typical problems found in healthcare facilities, enlighten the reader on some new issues, and provide practical guidelines for avoiding those problems.

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Published by: Hans De Keulenaer on Aug 04, 2009
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03/14/2014

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Philip Keebler, EPRI 
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The healthcare environment is made up of perhaps the most unusualcombination of electronic loads found in any facility. Healthcarefacilities not only rely upon commercial loads (such as computers,servers, and lighting system) and industrial loads (such as foodpreparation equipment, laundry equipment, medical gas systems,but also rely on electronic medical loads (that is, medical equipment)to operate the facility and provide patient care services. As in other facilities, when an electrical disturbance such as a voltagesag, voltage transient, or voltage swell reaches the service entrance of the healthcare facility or medical location, computers in theaccounting department may shut down, and motor starters andcontactors providing power to the air-conditioning and ventilationsystem may change the environment within the facility. Unlike otherplaces, however, a patient’s life could be threatened when an aorticballoon pump trips off-line during a cardiovascular surgery. Thecosts associated with downtime can be staggering, but no boundedcost can be placed on the irreversible result of loosing a patient.Building, electrical, and healthcare codes in the United States requirethat hospitals and other medical clinics have emergency power ready toactivate upon the detection of a power quality problem and assume theload within 10 seconds of the detection. However, even though agenerator may be used at a healthcare facility or medical location, itcannot be on-line to support critical medical equipment with anactivated transfer switch in less than about 2to 3 seconds at best. Thisduration of time might as well be forever in terms of the ability of electronic medical equipment to continue operating. In fact, anundervoltage as short as ¼ of a cycle (about 4milliseconds) is oftensufficient to confuse sensitive electronic devices.This
PQ TechWatch
 will introduce the typical problems found inhealthcare facilities, enlighten the reader on some new issues, andprovide practical guidelines for avoiding those problems.
C
ONTENTS
PQ T
 
echWatch
A product of the EPRI Power Quality Knowledge program
Dece
m
ber 2007
ece
m
ber 2007
Power Quality for
Healthcare Facilities
ealthcare Facilities
 
About the EPRI Power Quality Knowledge Program
The EPRI Power Quality Knowledge program provides a wealth of resources in well-designed,readable, and accessible formats. Paramount among these resources are documents covering a wide range of PQ topics, written not only for use by busy PQ professionals, but also to beshared with important end-use customers and internal utility managers. The program’s website, www.mypq.net, is the most comprehensive electronic PQ resource available,providing 24-7 access to proven expertise via the PQ Hotline, hundreds of PQ case studies,over 200 PQ technical documents, PQ standards references, indexes, conferencepresentations, and a wealth of other resources.For more information, please visit www.mypq.net.Copyright 2007, EPRI ( www.epri.com). All rights reserved. Distribution of 
PQ TechWatch
issubject to a license agreement with EPRI. No portion of this report may be reproduced orredistributed in any form, including electronic copies, without prior written consent fromEPRI. Distribution outside the licensed organization is expressly forbidden. Product andcompany names mentioned in this document may be trademarks of their respectivecompanies. Mention of third-party products is for informational purposes only andconstitutes neither a recommendation nor an endorsement. EPRI and the EPRI logo aretrademarks of EPRI.
 
ii
Power Quality for Healthcare Facilities
 
1
Power Quality for Healthcare Facilities
INTRODUCTION
 Although the electricity provided to ahealthcare facility or medical location is anabsolute necessity for healthcare providers tooperate their facilities, it is usually not givena lot of thought. The widespread growth of new and lingering illnesses and diseases, thecall for increasingly critical emergency services, and the pressure to reducehealthcare costs force healthcare providers tokeep their minds on their business—caring for their patients, enlisting the best possiblehealthcare professionals, and purchasing andinstalling the best medical equipment thatmoney can buy. Turning on a heart-lung bypass machine prior to a six-hour open-heart surgery where the operating roomlights “are always on” has become as routineas activating a medical gas supply of oxygenfor a patient and then adjusting the flow rateso the patient receives the desired amount of oxygen. Healthcare providers have little timeto be concerned with the quality of power orto find a reliable source of power to operatetheir equipment. They need quality power 24hours per day, 365 days per year. Moreover,the time spent on power quality concerns isbecoming shorter and shorter as bottom-linepressures continue to be applied.In most situations, instead of focusing onthe power quality, they have learned ways to“work around” malfunctioning and failedmedical equipment. When one blood-pressure monitor is broken (possibly from avoltage surge), a nurse or medicaltechnician goes and finds another monitor.But, in smaller healthcare facilities whereequipment may be limited, providers may find themselves with fewer pieces of redundant medical equipment and withoutresources including power to operate thefacility. To healthcare providers, themalfunction or failure of one key piece of medical equipment—a computedtomography (CT) scanner in an emergency room, for example—would be enough of aproblem to cripple the emergency medicalstaff. A second CT machine may not be anoption, and the nearest machine may bemany miles away in another hospital. Thismission-critical imaging system could betaken off-line by a minor voltage sag to 80%of nominal (i.e., a 20% sag), lasting for only three 60-hertz cycles (50 milliseconds). TheU.S. power quality community has estimatedthat $10 billion is lost yearly whenautomated control systems in industrialplants are upset by voltage sag events. Suchnumbers have not been estimatedspecifically for healthcare facilities orproviders, but one can assume that the costof downtime will also include possibly placing one or more patients at risk.
The Healthcare Environment
The healthcare environment in the UnitedStates is in continual transition in efforts toimprove patient care. Aside from thepractice of medicine, nursing, and othermedical-related fields, two areas key to thesuccess of these transitions are (1)improvements in the design, construction,and maintenance of healthcare facilities,and (2) the identification, selection,installation, and maintenance of medicalequipment. Lessons learned in the area of power quality for healthcare demonstratethat efforts made beforehand to incorporatepower quality into these two areas usually prevent significant interruptions in patientcare services and escalations in the costs of medical equipment downtime.The healthcare environment encompasseseverything associated with patient care andthe healthcare facility from the time thepatient enters the facility to the time thepatient leaves the facility. This environmentincludes healthcare functions that occuroutside and inside the facility. Healthcarefacility designers, planners, architects, andengineers and facility operating engineersand maintenance support personnel should
Healthcareproviders havelittle time to beconcerned withthe quality of power or to finda reliablesource of powerto operate theirequipment.

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