There is no place where the reliability of systems is more important than within a healthcare facility such as a hospital. Not only is the high availability of systems a key influencer of revenue and satisfaction, it could quite literally mean the difference between life and death in such an environment.

When failures happen

According to Hans Luppens of Schneider Electric, as many as twelve patients died in the aftermath of an outage caused by a fallen tree in a Florida nursing home. This severed the power supply, resulting in the building’s air conditioning system being shut down and sending temperatures soaring. If anything, the incident underscores the importance of business continuity measures for healthcare facilities.

To be clear, a variety of regulations do exist to ensure that patients in hospitals or residents of a nursing home are adequately protected. This ranges from guidelines and laws that stipulate redundant equipment to mandating the installation of uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems or a standalone power generator.

Moreover, the regular servicing and testing of backup power equipment is typically enforced to ensure that they function as expected in an emergency.

Making an assessment

To help ensure that healthcare facilities are adequately protected, below are various assessments that can go a long way towards early detection and remediation of potential issues that can arise.

  • Vulnerability assessment: Start with an assessment of the disaster potential of a facility by looking at its susceptibility to damage. This should include an evaluation of key metrics such as the number of people at risk, the value of the property, and the dangers of secondary hazards triggered by an event.
  • Risk assessment: Identify hazards and risk factors that have the potential to cause harm or otherwise negatively impact individuals or assets. This should include an appraisal of whether the identified risk is tolerable, and the impact of influencing factors on the risk.
  • Disaster recovery assessment: Evaluate existing backup plans and procedures to determine their adequacy in the face of threats. These plans should include vital information such as vendor contacts, emergency contacts and other data that the organisation can use to expedite their recovery in the wake of a disaster.
  • Environment assessment: Look at environmental factors such as settled and airborne contamination, as well as the environmental impact of deployed equipment. This should include relevant considerations such as the overall cleanliness of the facility and the comfort level of occupants.
  • Power assessment: Check the adequacy of existing systems and the backup power systems, reliability of primary power source, and whether surge suppression and power diversity are adequate. Existing plans should also be subjected to rigorous testing based on real-world conditions.

To learn more about how healthcare facilities can ensure system continuity in the face of power outages, you might want to check out the following 35-page guide titled “A practical guide to ensuring business continuity and high performance in healthcare facilities” from Schneider Electric here.

Article by Bhagwati Prasad, Vice President, Business Development, Secure Power Division, Schneider Electric