Changing Cord Culture: Recognizing Surgical Table Power Supply Hazards

[Photo source: Technical.ly.]

Sometimes it’s the simplest detail missed that can cause the greatest amount of trouble!

With so many things happening at once in even the most general OR sessions, the furthest thing from anyone’s focus is the cord which supplies power to the OR table — the central piece of equipment supporting the entire procedure.

Power cords are probably one of the last things that come to mind when considering the various safety hazards in medical facilities. However, removing this risk is crucial for safety in a hospital setting.

Pictured above is what it looks like when a table power supply cord catches on fire.

The root cause

This type of incident is often caused by a power cord that is not the proper style for the OR table being used.

If a cord’s end does not fully fit into the socket, the contacts will barely touch. Each time the cord is bumped and jostled; the connection will continue to degrade further.

Using the wrong type of cord doesn’t always lead to a fire, but it can still cause extensive (and expensive) damage. When a compromised power cord goes unnoticed and stays in one place, different tables can move in and out of the room to use the same cord. Each time a table uses the degraded cord, the issue continues to spread.

When one contact in a cord connection is poor, there is arcing and erosion of the good contact. This damaged contact can then go on to damage the next good contact it is mated with.

As a result, a facility may need to replace all power entry sockets and power cords for the tables across the entire unit.

Key learnings and best practices

To avoid a similar situation, here are some best practices facilities can easily follow and implement:

Use the specified cord

Some facilities power their tables with computer cords, which are nowhere near heavy enough to carry the required current to charge the batteries. That’s why it’s so important to use the proper original equipment manufacturer cord for the table. These power cords have much more stringent insulation properties needed for the environment they are used in.

Unplug and recharge

Many facilities still follow the practice of keeping their tables plugged in 24 hours a day “just in case”. One recommendation is to only charge tables over the weekend as many have enough battery reserve to confidently run an entire week without needing to be recharged.

Other benefits of unplugging the table include:

  • The power cord is no longer a tripping hazard and is safely out of the way of damage from getting stepped on or run over by carts.
  • Shock hazards to users, patients and cleaning staff are avoided – especially in wet situations.
  • One or more levels of redundancy are activated if the table was to stop working during a procedure.

Keep up on battery health

Continually charging failed batteries is a dangerous situation as it can cause excessive heat to build up in the battery or the charging circuits. Batteries also perform better when they cycle between being charged and discharged.

Most tables have a very good battery indicator that will notify users well in advance if the battery will need charging to make it through the week. If the light comes on, all users need to do is connect the cord – a small and easy step. If a table cannot get through the week without a recharge, the batteries and charging system should be checked out by maintenance.

In conclusion

If facilities choose to adopt these simple steps, perhaps we can begin to change the current cord culture. There are numerous benefits to taking care of your table’s power supply system, but most importantly, it creates a progressively better and safer environment for everyone.


Do you know what condition your surgical equipment is currently in?

Due to the ever-growing complexity of healthcare products, many facilities are not able to confidently answer this question. Meditek’s unique equipment assessments program (InSight) is a service whereby our technicians will go on-site and do a thorough review of the products of your choice. The technicians will make detailed notes of everything they observe including potential problems that could result in equipment breakdowns.


Your valuable medical equipment deserves protection.

While your patients depend on your equipment to keep them safe and comfortable, you can rely on our Meditek experts to keep your equipment in pristine condition with our preventative maintenance services. From preventive maintenance of surgical tables to remanufacturing to make your equipment brand new again, we’ve got you covered.


Additional resources

With our experience of serving the medical industry since 1981, our experts at Meditek are well-positioned to recommend top surgical tables and accessories for various specialties. We also pride ourselves on being vendor-neutral, meaning we will always recommend the best product for your unique facility needs – no matter what.

For more insights from Meditek on surgical equipment and operating room workflow management, visit our blog or browse our products.

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