CMS offers categorical waiver on power strips


September 29, 2014

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is offering a categorical waiver that allows hospitals to use power strips (also known as multi-plug adapters or relocatable power taps) in patient care areas under certain circumstances. The policy change takes effect immediately.

Requirements in the 1999 edition of NFPA 99, which is referenced in the 2000 edition of NFPA 101: Life Safety Code®, did not permit the use of power strips. CMS said in a new memo that the power strip requirements in NFPA 99-1999 have become “outmoded and unduly burdensome.” CMS pointed out that the 2012 edition of NFPA 99: Health Care Facilities Code expands the permitted use of power strips or RPTs in patient care rooms.

CMS is offering a categorical waiver to health care facilities that want to use power strips if the facility is in compliance with all applicable power strip requirements in NFPA 99-2012 as well as all other NFPA 99-1999 and NFPA 101-2000 electrical system and equipment provisions.

The CMS memo outlines the conditions under which power strips may be used and the requirements for using them. For example, power strips providing power to patient care-related electrical equipment must be special-purpose relocatable power taps (SPRPTs) listed as UL 1363A or UL 60601-1. Power strips providing power to non-patient care-related electrical equipment must be relocatable power taps (RPTs) listed as UL 1363.

To use the waiver, hospitals must have written documentation indicating they have elected to do so. Facility staff must notify surveyors at the entrance conference that the organization has elected to use the categorical waiver and that the facility meets the requirements. Surveyors will review the information and confirm the facility meets the conditions for the waiver.

ASHE has been working closely with CMS on this issue and will continue to keep members updated on the latest developments. Watch the ASHE Insider electronic newsletter for updates.