Yes, this was a problem with no pat solution...and no one you could point a finger at. In my opinion the design of the high placement of some of the outlets was the biggest factor.
And, yes there are a lot of the short nurses, aids, pump techs, RTs, ....
Only "Hospital Grade" plugs are used in these environments. I'm not sure that "loosening up" the contacts by plugging and unplugging a plug would work in a reasonable amount of time...although they do get less tight after a few years. Messing around with lubricants is not a solution in an environment where vast amounts of medical equipment cord sets are cleaned within an inch of their lives after every use...and no guarantee that any single device will go back to a location were it's a problem. The fact is that in most hospital beds, though the headwalls have high outlets, they are never used...they're there "just in case". Our NICU was a special case. I had seen as many as 18 devices on one tiny baby.
On many devices there may be no "battery charging" indication during use, it's just on. There are "battery operation" indicators though. The problem was that they would initially work OK, but we suspected that cord movement caused the disconnects. Going into battery operation is usually just one beep. With loads of devices at one bed, this could be missed.
Staff training in those areas, especially the supervisors, pretty much ended the problem.
Warren: I think you've already hit upon the solution, but haven't realized it. It's true that these "hospital grade" receptacles have extremely strong springs. The cure may simply be to use a "hospital grade" plug (which usually have quite thick prongs) to break-in each and every new receptacle. This, plus a bit of contact lubricant on the plug's prongs to lube the socket, should make it easier for the user.
I think part of the problem is that these receptacles were installed quite high up, makings it harder for the user to apply sufficient insertion force. By the way, were the staff members short?
I think the line was supposed to be "if the plugs were NOT inserted far enough".
The article mentions 'battery charging mode' which I think would be an indicator lamp. I know this will sound ridiculous, but a 'plug inserted fully to get AC power' lamp would confirm the plug is seated. Or a more obvious 'running on battery' indicator or alarm might bring attention to the plug being loose.
Unfortunately, I see no solution for this problem. You can't train everyone to "push hard on the plug when you plug it into the wall." There is no guarantee that they will always to that. Maybe over time the sockets will loosen up a little and it won't be such a problem. Maybe a little or not so little sign warning them. But technically, this is a problem with no or limited solutions. You're dealing with "people," the weakest link in the chain.
Truchard will be presented the award at the 2014 Golden Mousetrap Awards ceremony during the co-located events Pacific Design & Manufacturing, MD&M West, WestPack, PLASTEC West, Electronics West, ATX West, and AeroCon.
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