Electrical codes and standards within healthcare

Essential systems include emergency systems and equipment systems, which are crucial to life safety and patient care.


When working with a facility's equipment system, it is crucial to understand how it supports the major electrical equipment necessary for basic facility operation and patient care. Essential systems include emergency systems and equipment systems-the emergency system is limited to circuits that are essential to life safety and crucial patient care. These are named the life safety branch and the critical branch.

  • The life safety branch of the emergency system supplies power to lighting, receptacles and equipment—such as illumination of means of egress and alarm and alerting systems—to provide adequate power needs to ensure patient and personnel safety. Additionally, HVAC controls are on the life safety branch as HVAC operations can impact smoke control and life safety.
  • The critical branch of the emergency power supplies power for task illumination, fixed equipment, selected receptacles, and special power circuits serving certain functions and areas—such as nurse call systems and blood, bone and tissue banks—related to patient care. This branch is intended to serve a limited number of locations to reduce the load and minimize the chances of a fault condition.

Here are a few National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) documents that address primary issues related to emergency power for hospitals include:

  1. NFPA 99, Healthcare Facilities – establishes criteria for levels of healthcare services or systems based on risk to the patients, staff, or visitors in health care facilities to minimize the hazards of fire, explosion, and electricity.
  2. NFPA 110, Emergency and Standby Power Systems – addresses installation, maintenance, operation, and testing requirements for emergency and standby power systems that provide an alternative source of electrical power in facilities if the normal electrical power source fails.
  3. NFPA 101, Life Safety Code – establishes strategies on how to protect people based on building construction, protection and occupancy features that minimize the effects of fire or other related hazards.

The location of each project determines which codes to follow. Healthcare facilities also need to adhere to State Department of Health requirements, which can vary from state to state.

- This article originally appeared on RTM Engineering blog. RTM Engineering is a CFE Media content partner.

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