AAMI News November 2017

Tech World: How to Meet CMS and TJC Power Strip Requirements

Matt Baretich
Matt Baretich is president of Baretich Engineering, which is based in Fort Collins, CO. He is the author of AAMI’s Electrical Safety Manual and AEM Program Guide.

In 2014, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued new requirements for“power strips,” some of which are technically referred to as relocatable power taps (RPTs). It’s not clear what hazard CMS meant to address with these requirements—or how the requirements make healthcare delivery safer—but sometimes the best we can do is simply to follow the rules. And make no mistake about it: The Joint Commission (TJC) is enforcing the CMS rules.

Unfortunately, at least some TJC surveyors are not clear about the requirements. For that reason, healthcare technology management professionals need to have a good understanding of what the rules require and how to comply with them in a cost-effective manner.

Developing a power strip policy is an essential component for compliance. The sample policy below provides a basic outline, but here are a few things to keep in mind as you develop your own policy:Sample Power Strip Policy

  • Scope. CMS and TJC are silent on the use of power strips outside of patient care rooms. However, you should still use good quality power strips appropriate for each location and take damaged power strips out of service. This is a good task to add to your environmental tours (hazard surveillance rounds).
  • Ampacity. Although the “ampacity” requirement remains (see Procedure 3a), the requirement to “ensure that additional devices or nonmedical equipment cannot be connected to the multiple outlet extension cord after leakage currents have been verified as safe,” from NFPA 99 (2012), has been withdrawn. Lock-out tabs or other mechanisms are no longer required.
  • Documentation. The requirement referenced in Procedure 3b implies some sort of inventory process, which could be as elaborate as applying property tags and making individual entries into your computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) or as simple as collective single-line CMMS entries for all special purpose relocatable power taps in an area, such as your operating rooms. Inspections can be visual and can be scheduled when the rest of equipment assembly is inspected. George Mills, TJC’s former director of engineering, has written that even visual inspection by clinical staff is adequate.