The Use Of Uninterruptible Power Supply In Hospitals
In the modern world, almost everything we use relies on electrical power, which means everything can be cut off when there is a power outage. Most of the time it’s not a matter of life or death – but for hospitals, power outages can be life-threatening. Using an uninterruptible power supply is necessary to ensure patient safety.
How Can Hospitals Lose Power?
Hospitals aren’t protected from all the elements that will usually cause power loss – fires, floods, extreme weather and accidents.
The most important thing is what they do once they have lost national grid power. The majority of hospitals have various backup generators and systems to replace the power once it’s gone. They will have uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) that kick in to ensure no power is actually lost when an outage happens, giving staff valuable time to get generators running and power loss procedures in motion.
Hospital Power Losses: Case Studies
Generally, when a hospital loses power, there is a backup power plan in place that ensures important machines will continue to function. This is now UK legislation for hospitals and healthcare facilities, but other countries do not have these rulings in place.
In 2017, India saw a large number of power outages throughout the year, mainly due to the rising heat and shortage of coal. In March, a hospital in Puducherry lost power while three patients were undergoing haemodialysis for kidney problems. It’s claimed that the backup generators were running their machines, but sadly all three women died when the power returned 15 minutes later. Even the smallest blip in power to these life-saving machines can be fatal.
Staff at a hospital in Joplin, Missouri, witnessed a terrible tornado back in 2011 which blew out the windows of the building – along with taking out the power. The staff followed the planned procedure to move patients and get the generators running, but the storm sucked the power generator out of the hospital and the backup didn’t work, leaving them with no power.
This loss of power sadly resulted in 5 patient deaths, where their ventilators failed. Even with the best staff and the most rigorous power outage plans in place, these occurrences can happen.
Sometimes even with the best backup plans in place, there are still problems, normally referred to be “acts of God” by insurers. One such “act of God” occurred in December 2015 when Storm Desmond spread across the UK.
Lancaster was one of the towns affected badly by flooding caused by the storm, especially as the main substation for the city was flooded – which lead to power outages across the city and surrounding areas.
75 large generators were rushed in to help alleviate the problem, but there were almost 4 days with little to no power available to the cities residents. This caused many problems in the transport network, communication networks and local schools and universities.
Fortunately, the local hospital, Lancaster Royal Infirmary, had standby diesel generators. To allow for generator failure they are duplicated to give them twice as much power if needed. This allowed the hospital to still run efficiently, so much so that it became a hub for the community, offering hot meals and electricity for all during the storms – as well as life-saving healthcare. The only way it was able to offer this was because of it’s excellent UPS system and backup generators.
Why An Uninterruptible Power Supply Is Necessary In Hospitals
Hospitals have some of the most advanced technology known to man, and almost all of them rely on an electric power supply. When the power is lost there are a large number of things that can go wrong in a hospital environment.
- Machine failure: including life support, anaesthesia technology, MRI scans and many more which could completely stop working
- Lights are off, which may cause panic amongst patients
- Air conditioning, heating and ventilation loss may cause discomfort amongst patients and staff. It can also cause generator powered machines to fail due to overheating and make cooled medicines and even donated organs unusable
- Loss of water pressure and sanitation problems due to the loss of electrically powered pumps
- Data loss through server overheating or power loss. This could result in loss of patient records, important information and leave long-lasting problems
- Communications can go down, leaving patients unable to buzz for assistance, emergency rooms unable to anticipate incoming ambulances and communication failure between wards
- Lifts may not work, trapping bed-bound patients on the wrong floors, or rendering them unable to get to areas they need to be in
- Security issues may cause alarms to no longer work and automatic door locking issues
As you can imagine, these problems are not things you would want happening in a hospital setting. This is why it’s essential that hospitals have a backup plan in place for power loss. Fortunately, UK legislation requires hospitals to have a specific plan in place for power outages.
UK Legislation on Hospital Power Infrastructures
Hospital infrastructures must comply with UK legislation to ensure power integrity and continuity throughout different power failure scenarios.
IEC 60364-7-710 applies to electrical installations in medical locations, to ensure the safety of patients and medical staff. Its requirements mainly cover hospitals, private clinics, medical and dental practices, health care centres and dedicated medical rooms in the workplace.
The legislation covers all parts of the electrical design work, operational management and maintenance of each site. It also provides guidance on installations and equipment used specifically for the healthcare industry.
One of the most interesting parts of the legislation states that it requires that power for life-supporting equipment must be restored within 0.5 seconds of a power interruption. Uninterruptible power supplies can bridge the gap between main grid and backup power when there is a power outage. They seamlessly step in to keep things running smoothly when power stops.Their runtime is anywhere between 10 minutes and an hour depending on the model.
Custom Uninterruptible Power Supply for Hospitals
We create bespoke, rugged uninterruptible power supply systems here at Celab. Our systems ensure that the effect power outages have on your business is minimal to none, including reducing the risk of revenue, data or time loss when these occurrences happen.
If you want more information or to talk about your hospital requirements please call us on 01420 477 011 or email at email@example.com