CMS Power Strips Requirements

Be Ready for Inspections: CMS Power Strips Requirements


After receiving our October message that CMS issued a Categorical Waiver which allows the use of specific Power Strips in Patient Care Areas, many of you requested that DESCO provide this audit.


We understand the importance of this matter, the Waiver Requirements and the time involved to guarantee compliance.  We also have Power Strip Compliance Specialists available to inspect your power strip use and validate your status to ask for a waiver.


If you would like DESCO to schedule an inspection of Power Strips and the Waiver at your facility, please reply to this email, and we will set up a time that is convenient for you.


You can assess your facility’s readiness by taking this readiness quiz:


Relocatable Power Taps (RPTs)


Take the Quiz

CMS Power Strips Requirements Quiz by DESCO

  1. 1) What is the government body responsible for observing the guidelines pertaining to the use of power taps in patient vicinity areas?

  2.  DEA




  3. 2) Is the following statement true: RPTs may be used for non-patient care equipment such as computers/monitors/printers, and in areas such as waiting rooms, offices, nurse stations, support areas, corridors, etc.

  4.  True


  5. 3) Which of the following conditions have to be observed to use power taps according to Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services guidelines?

  6.  Ensuring they are never “daisy-chained”

     Preventing cords from becoming tripping hazards

     Installing internal ground fault and over-current protection devices

     Using power strips that are adequate for the number and types of devices used

     All of the above

  7. 4) What steps does the organization have to take to be able to use RPTs?

  8.  Use them as long as they are following the guidelines

     Do not use them at all as they are not permitted

     Call an electrical contractor to install RPTs

     Ensure full compliance with the guidelines; document the decision to adopt the categorical waiver by Minutes in discussion at the Environment of Care Committee (or equivalent). Declare the decision at the beginning of any survey identifying where the RPTs are located at the unit level.

  9. 5) Which of these conditions must be met to use RPTs?

  10.  The RPTs are permanently attached to the equipment assembly.

     The sum of the ampacity** of all devices connected to the receptacles shall not exceed 75 percent of the ampacity of the flexible cord supplying the receptacles.

     The ampacity of the flexible cord is suitable in accordance with the current edition of NFPA 70, National Electric Code.

     The electrical and mechanical integrity of the assembly is regularly verified and documented through an ongoing maintenance program.

     Means are employed to ensure that additional devices or nonmedical equipment cannot be connected to the multiple outlet extension cord after leakage currents have been verified as safe.

     All of the above

  11. 6) What is the ampacity of a device that consumes 300 Watts?

  12.  The ampacity of the device will be approximately 3 Amps

     The ampacity of the device will be approximately 30 Amps

     The ampacity of the device will be approximately 0.3 Amps

     There is no way to know the ampacity if you only know the power consumption.

  13. 7) If a RPT is rated by UL to a max ampacity of 20 Amps what would be the recommended maximum ampacity of the devices that could be connected to it in an Operating Room Environment?

  14.  50% or 10 Amps

     75% or 15 Amps

     100% or 20 Amps

  15. 8) What can be done to extend the length of the cable of an RPT?

  16.  Nothing. It is not permitted.

     Just use a longer cable and make sure that the plug is a medical grade one.

     Solder a new cable to the existing one and make sure that there is a well done electrical insolation.

  17. 9) What can be done to connect a personal music device owned by a surgeon into a medical grade RPT that was approved to be used in the OR?

  18.  Just connect it to a RPT that also powers medical equipment

     It cannot be connected to an RPT that may be used for medical equipment.

  19. 10) What equipment from the list can never be connected to RPTs?

  20.  Laser


     Patient Warmer

     Liposuction Unit

     Lasers and Lipostuction Units

     ESUs and Patient Warmers

  21. 11) Explain how to determine the total ampacity of equipment plugged into a power strip.

  22.  Add the amperes of each item for a sum total. This information is located on the back of the asset. If power is desgnated in watts, divide watts by 100 to convert into an apporximate value of current in amperes.

     Multiply the amperes of each item.

     If power is desgnated in watts, add the sum of the watts to convert into an apporximate value of current in amperes.

  23. 12) In March 2014 the CMS stated that power strips cannot be used in patient areas.

  24.  True


  25. 13) In September 2014 the CMS reversed its decision and now allows power strips in patient areas as long as their requirements are met.

  26.  True


  27. 14) A power strip with a green indicator dot and listed as UL 1363A or UL 60601-1 is hospital-grade.

  28.  True


After receiving your grade, select the Give Me More link to see quiz the answers.




DESCO Medical Logo


Contact Details:
Corporate Headquarters
200 Venture Way
Hadley, MA 01035
Telephone: 800-845-0606
Southeast Regional Office
2240 SW 70th Avenue
Unit H1
Davie, FL 33317
Telephone: 877-845-5911