In a September 26 letter to state survey agency directors, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) waived the expected enforcement of controversial rules banning the use of power strips in many hospital patient care settings. The letter, written by Thomas Hamilton, the director of the Survey and Certification Group within the CMS, provides for a “categorical waiver” to “allow for the use of power strips in existing and new health care facility patient care areas.”
In the letter, Hamilton says that the 2000 edition of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 101 Life Safety Code (LSC) “contains provisions on the use of power strips in health care facilities that may result in unreasonable hardship for providers or suppliers.” In place of that edition of the code, Hamilton says, the CMS will look to the 2012 edition, “which has extended allowances on the use of power strips in patient care areas.”
For hospitals, the bottom line for the CMS can be found in the following statement in the letter: “We are permitting a categorical waiver to allow for the use of power strips in existing and new health care facility patient care areas/rooms, if the provider/supplier complies with all applicable 2012 NFPA 99 power strip requirements and with all other 1999 NFPA 99 and 2000 LSC electrical system and equipment provisions.”
Word of the earlier and more stringent CMS view on power strips first came out at the AAMI annual meeting last June, when George Mills of The Joint Commission announced it. The news caused substantial consternation among the nation’s HTM professionals.
For more details on the categorical waiver and how to invoke it, refer to the full text of the letter, S&C: 14-46-LSC, which may be downloaded from the CMS website.