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Electrical Safety in Intensive Care Units (ICU's)

Prof. Prashant B. Patel

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1) Electricity presents a serious hazard in hospitals.

2) It is not possible to determine the incidence of fatal and non-fatal hospital electrical accidents.

3) Estimates vary from 1200-1500 per year.

4) Accidents generally unreported.

5) ICU’s presents serious hazard due to:

  1. Number of electrically powered machines.
  2. The number of conductors in, on, and around patients.
  3. Times when unsafe conditions are present: fluid or blood on the floor, bed, or on other equipment

6) We must have knowledge of electrical safety to protect the patient, others, and yourself.

7) Electric current consists of a flow of electrons through a conducting pathway or circuit. The circuit must be closed with a difference in potential existing between two points. Current must be continuous flow in one direction (DC) or reverse its direction frequently (AC).

8) The amount of current flowing between two points of different electrical potential vides inversed with the intervening resistance. Resistance is the impedance to flow. When resistance is low, large amounts of current flow and inversely when resistance is high.

9) Electricity is carried into the hospital via a hot line and is carried back to the power source via a neutral line. This is a 2-wire system.

10) When a 3-wire system is used a ground is used. A ground works to transfer all excess leakage of current to the ground.

11) As electrical current leaks. The amount of current is re-circulated and is harmless if the equipment is normal grounded.

12) Electric shock refers to the effects and reaction produced by passage of an electric current through the body. The effect varies with the amount of current delivered, its duration, pathway through the body, area of exposure, and the tissues lying in the pathway of the current.

PICT, Pune-43

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