What does NFPA 99 say?
Relocatable power taps (RPTs) or “power strips” are actually referred to by a third name in NFPA 99, as multiple outlet connections, and their use is detailed in Chapter 10, Electrical Equipment. They are permitted to be used in conjunction with patient care-related electrical equipment provided that the equipment is a moveable equipment assembly and the following conditions are met:
- Receptacles are permanently attached to the equipment assembly
- The sum of ampacity of all appliances connected to the outlets does not exceed 75 percent of the ampacity of the flexible cord supplying the outlets
- The ampacity of the flexible cord is in compliance with NFPA 70
- The electrical and mechanical integrity of the assembly is regularly verified and documented
It's important to note that based on the section which these requirements fall under, the requirements only apply to the use of RPTs in conjunction with patient care-related electrical equipment. NFPA 99 does not specify the requirements based on patient care areas, non-patient care areas or any other designation. Nor does the code prohibit or explicitly allow the use of RPTs in other areas or for other purposes than for use with patient care-related equipment.
What do the Regulators/Accreditation Bodies say?
As we know, CMS is still on the 1999 edition of NFPA 99 which they have interpreted to not allow for the use of RPTs. They have however issued a Categorical Waiver (S&C 14-46-LSC) allowing for their use as described above with some additional provisions. It adds an item 5 to the list above that requires means be employed to ensure that additional equipment or devices cannot be connected after the leakage of the assembly has been verified. It further prohibits the use of RPTs within the patient care vicinity to power any non-patient care-related electrical equipment and permits their use outside of the patient care vicinity for both patient care-related and non-patient care-related equipment.
If your facility wishes to elect to use the waiver, you’ll be expected to have written documentation that it has been elected to use the waiver. A provider or supplier must notify the LSC survey team at the entrance conference that it has elected the use the waiver permitted under this guidance and that it meets the applicable waiver requirements. The survey team will review the information and confirm the facility meets the conditions for the waiver.
The American Society for Healthcare Engineering, ASHE, has developed numerous resources on this issue for facilities that are interested in this waiver.