My nurse/neighbor likes the idea of a power light in the plug. Some of my extension cords have neon lights in the clear plug or receptacle to indicate power. I've noticed that they tend to burn out after a few years, but the 3-way tap I just got has an LED power indicator.
The receptacle location so high up it can barely be reached is a contributor, perhaps even the root cause since this issue does not appear to be a problem elsewhere in the hospital.
I agree with Warren that users are the weakest link in the chain. But that said, as an intelligent, creative and reasonably well-educated user when it comes to things mechanical and electrical, I still find myself stumped occasionally at how to interact with a machine. What used to be common knowledge isn't anymore. There's so much specialized technology in objects we use everyday that without direct experience or specialized knowledge--or well-labeled indicator lights--this type of situation is getting more common.
To build on Ken's argument regarding twist-lock plugs:
Operating rooms used to require twist-lock plugs. They don't any more. It doesn't work.
Reasons: In the OR, it's not unusual for someone/something to snag a power cord. with a regular plug, the device comes unplugged - not good, but better than what happened with twist lock plugs. Those are - the clinician trips, dropping whatever they have, possibly hitting others, etc. etc. The cord tears out of the plug, rendering the device useless, and depending on the case, causing a major hazard.
In a NICU, or any critical clinical area, the solution of twist lock plugs/outlets or other specialized combo simply doesn't work.
Think of a hospital as an oversized piece of equipment - except it's always being redisigned on the fly, inputs and outputs randomly change, and a large part of the components (the people) are generally running just above the chaos threshold.
I'm guessing that a partially inserted plug with exposed metal could be considered a hazard, so what may seem to be the obvious solution is to require the plug to be fully inserted by moving the contacts deeper into the socket. Ditto with old worn-out plugs falling out indicating thicker contacts to prevent poor retention. Then the facilities team puts the plug up in the air so the cord can't touch the floor and will be easily seen. Adding the human element of nurses who have become accustomed the old non OSSHA, easy-plug, early wear-out, non facilities enhanced plugs and the expected outcome is exactly what we're seeing. The people designing the next hospital or laboratory unfortunately are not the ones who use all these newly deisgned products. They all look good in a catalog and once bought and installed, they'll last for years.
What should be the perception of a product’s real-world performance with regard to the published spec sheet? While it is easy to assume that the product will operate according to spec, what variables should be considered, and is that a designer obligation or a customer responsibility? Or both?
Biomimicry has already found its way into the development of robots and new materials, with researchers studying animals and nature to come up with new innovations. Now thanks to researchers in Boston, biomimicry could even inform the future of electrical networks for next-generation displays.
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