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First, we must understand the definition of the patient care vicinity. To answer this question, let’s look at CMS K-Tag 920 which outlines what is acceptable use for power strips. K920 states that power strips (SPRPTs) in a patient care vicinity are only used for components of movable patient-care-related electrical equipment (PCREE) assemblies that have been assembled by a qualified personnel and meet the conditions of NFPA 99 (2012) 10.2.3.6 (UL 1363A). K920 further explains that power strips (RPTs) for non-patient-care-related electrical equipment in the patient care room outside of vicinity meet UL 1363 as long as PCREE are not connected. SPRPTs and RPTs must be permanently affixed. Further, K920 explains that power strips are used with general precautions and are not suitable for a fixed wiring of a structure, which is a requirement derived from NFPA 70 (2010) 400.8(1). This can be open to interpretation by a surveyor. Is the power strip being used for permanent equipment? Should receptacles be installed? Power strips should not be used as a substitute for fixed wiring, but used temporarily and removed immediately upon completion of the purpose.
Note: It’s important to understand the difference between Special-Purpose Relocatable Power Taps (SPRPTs: UL 1363A) Relocatable Power Taps (RPT: UL 1363), and Power Strips. To learn more check out the HFM Magazine article by Jonathan Flannery below. Also, ASHE Members can access the ASHE Inappropriate Electrical Issues webpage, which has several downloadable resources, including the CMS QSO Categorical Waiver, a comparison chart between SPRPTs and RPTs, and a sample policy and procedure for power strips.