Extension Cords and Multiple Outlet Strips
FAQ [Health Devices Sep 1996;25(9):344-5]
What policies should hospitals follow
concerning the use of extension cords?
According to the 1996 edition of the National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) Standard for Health Care Facilities (NFPA 99-1996, Section 7-18.104.22.168), the use of extension
cords and some adapters is allowed.(1) While the standard now specifically
allows the use of extension cords, we still recommend that hospitals consider
the following when developing a policy on extension cord use. Extension cords
- Be made of quality components and be of adequate
ampacity for the purpose if they are to be used in patient care.
- Be tagged or otherwise identified and incorporated
in a periodic inspection program.
- Be available in designated areas for use during
emergencies, such as loss of power, when emergency power would be available
only at a distance from the bedside.
Extension cords should not:
- Be placed under rugs or other areas where they
could become abraded.
- Be used routinely to compensate for a shortage of
outlets. (Instead, outlets should be added to eliminate the need for routine
extension cord use.)
- Be used in public lounges, nursing stations, or
locations where carts can roll over them.
What about the use of multiple outlet
Multiple outlet strips consist of a cluster of
receptacles that are fed from a single power cord. These strips can be used
provided that 1) the cluster of receptacles is mounted to a unit such as a cart,
2) the cord and receptacles are well constructed and of adequate ampacity, and
3) the assembly is periodically inspected. Judicious use of this approach in the
operating room can reduce the number of power cords lying on the floor and
thereby reduce tripping hazards.
When deciding whether to use a multiple outlet strip, users should be aware that a failure in one device could affect the operation of several devices plugged into the cluster. Also, a blown fuse on the outlet strip will cut power to all of the devices plugged into the strip, and a loss of grounding through the outlet strip's power cord will permit leakage currents from any one device plugged into the strip to be present in all of the other devices.
- National Fire Protections Association (NFPA). Standard for health
care facilities. Quincy (MA): NFPA;1996. NFPA
Extension Cords, Electrical, Multioutlet [17-603]