Electrical Safety

Topics: Electric current, Alternating current, Electricity distribution Pages: 11 (1096 words) Published: November 17, 2013
Electrical Safety in the
Operating Room

Perioperative Staff
Education 01/04
Winifred Wilt, RN, MSN,
CNOR

Education
 Required

by JCAHO
 Required during orientation
 Annual review required

Electrical Hazards
 Fires
 Burns
 Electrical

shock
 Explosions
 Power failure

Outcomes
 Damage

to or malfunction of equipment
 Possibility of patient and staff injury,
disability, or death

Electrical Shock
 Shock

occurs when a person becomes
the final component that closes a loop in
which electrical current flows

Electrocution
 Electrocution

occurs when the amount
or path of the current flowing through
the individual becomes lethal
 Electrocution usually involves use of
cord-connected equipment, contact with
ground, and a moist or wet environment

Electrical Terminology
–electrical pressure
 Amperage –electrical flow rate
 Impedance –restriction to electrical flow
(pipe friction)
 Circuit –path of flow of electricity
 Fault –current flow through an
unintended path
 Voltage

Basic Rules of Electrical Action
 Electricity

is not live until current flows
 Electrical current will not flow until there
is a complete loop, or circuit

Grounding
is grounding? –a method of
protection from electrical shock
 A ground is a conductive connection –
between electrical circuit or equipment
and earth –or to a conductive body
which serves in place of earth
 Grounding creates a low resistance
path to earth
 What

Grounding
 All

sorts of things, including people, can
be grounded, or not grounded
 Grounding may be intentional or
accidental
 Grounding some things are intentional
so that when other things are
accidentally grounded, the outcome can
be controlled or predicted

Reasons for Grounding
 Protection

from high voltages brought into the
facility (e.g. lightning) that could cause arcing
and fires
 Inexpensive, reliable, passive, and effective
method of controlling hazards resulting from
use of electricity
 To enable use of protective devices (fuses
and circuit breakers) which will trip upon
accidental line to ground faults

Three wire plug
 Ground

prong is
slightly longer
 This insures the
ground connection
is the first made
when plug is
inserted and the last
to be broken when
the plug is removed

Current Flow in Properly
Grounded System

Fault in Properly Grounded Tool

Shock from Improperly
Grounded Tool

Myths:
 Electricity

wants to go to ground
 FALSE: Electrical current must return to
its source; ground may or may not be a
path to the source

Myths:
 Electricity

is drawn to water
 FALSE: Water does not draw electricity.
However, it is a conductor and does
lower skin resistance.

Circuit Breakers
 Designed

to interrupt relatively large
fault currents
 Protect property by preventing fires from
starting
 Can be reset; fuses must be replaced
 Ineffective at preventing shocks

Electrical Shocks
 Produced

by current, not voltage
 Amount of current dependant on body
resistance
 Human body resistance can range
between 1000 ohms and 1,000,000
ohms, depending on body mass,
moisture content, and area of contact

How much shock current?
milliampere (mA) –threshold of
perception
 10-20 mA –muscle contractions
 50 mA –pain
 100 mA to 4 Amperes –ventricular
fibrillation, death
 Over 4 Amperes –severe burns
1

Macroshock vs Microshock
 Macroshock

current is distributed
somewhat evenly through body parts
 Microshock current path is through a
single point, usually the heart
 Microshock can be fatal at levels that
would be imperceptible if applied to skin

Macroshock
 Electrical

current that leaks from a
broken cord or piece of equipment
 Can range from a slight tingling
sensation to stopping the heart

Macroshock
 When

passing from
hand to hand, only
about 5% of the
current passes...
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