Every three years, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) publishes an updated version of the National Electrical Code. Since 1897, it has been the standard for electrical safety to protect people and property and is diligently followed by PayneCrest in all of its installations. NEC has been updated for 2017 and there have been some notable changes for healthcare facilities covered in NEC Article 517. While some are refinements in definitions related to healthcare, medical facility owners should be aware of the following:
Use of Isolated Grounding Receptacles
These receptacles are now prohibited within any patient care vicinity to ensure the safety of patients and healthcare workers. They are allowed outside the patient care vicinity, but they must be wired to meet NEC Article 517 standards and include an insulated copper equipment grounding conductor that complies with NEC Article 250.146 (D). The wire-type insulated equipment grounding conductors are required and the conductor installed for the IG receptacle must be identified with green insulation that includes one or more yellow stripes.
Essential Electrical Systems (EES)
Part III of Article 517 has an added section to provide information on types of essential electrical systems (EES) required for Category 1 and Category 2 care locations. It clarifies that critical care (Category 1) spaces shall be served only by a Type 1 EES. In addition, there are revisions that bring greater clarity the types of EES required for nursing homes and limited-care facilities. The informational note assigns categories to the types of care in these facilities and provides the trigger for application of NEC Article 517.29 through 517.30.
Expansion of Power Sources
Fuel cells are now included as a source of power for the essential electrical system (EES) and it must be listed for that use. Standards in this section have been revised to remove the subjective phrase “careful consideration” and now clearly includes mandatory requirements for location of EES components and services.
Governing Body of Health Care Facilities
The term “governing body” appears in multiple sections in NEC Article 517. It is a new definition, typically referring to the hospital, and correlates between NFPA 99, Health Care Code, and NFPA 70, National Electrical Code. It is important because it directly relates to the governing body that makes decisions about the level of patient care in all facility spaces. A critical aspect of the new definition is that this body has the overall legal responsibility for the operation of the healthcare facility.