Does Your Healthcare Organization Have a Plan for the Next Power Outage?

Updated on November 26, 2023

A power outage can be devastating for a healthcare facility if there’s no backup power source in place or a plan to manage the situation. If you’re a healthcare decision-maker, it’s important that you know the potential consequences of not being prepared so that you can cover all of your bases to the best of your ability.

What causes power outages?

There are a host of situations that cause power outages, including cars smashing into electric poles, trees pulling lines down, and random issues at the power plant. However, a failed transformer is one of the most common, and it happens to be one of the only factors you can somewhat control.

With that said, here’s what you need to know about transformers, why they fail, and why getting a high-quality transformer can help you avoid devastating power outages.

Why do transformers fail?

Unfortunately, many transformers fail prematurely, and repairing the damage can cost more than buying a new one since not all damage is physical. For example, if your transformer fails prematurely, you could end up with civil lawsuits, regulatory fines, and a tarnished reputation.

When it comes to transformers, you truly do get what you pay for. If you go cheap, you get cheap; they just aren’t made to last, and here’s why:

·  The manufacturing process is flawed.

·  There is no quality control.

·  Details are overlooked.

·  Mass production uses machines with no oversight from experienced craftsmen.

·  Poor material choices.

·  Thin and low quality insulation, which causes overheating.

·  Required add-ons are too expensive, so customers forego them.

Healthcare organizations need a high-quality transformer on the premises that has been installed correctly by a professional. It’s equally crucial to have it regularly maintained when the first signs of failure show up to prevent the (avoidable) catastrophic failure that can leave you stranded without power. You’ll pay more upfront for a quality transformer that has been hand-wound by an expert craftsman, but that’s an insignificant cost for the peace of mind you’ll have as a result.

Once you do have a high-quality transformer, it’s imperative to maintain it and have it serviced when necessary. For example, you’ll need to monitor the temperature because an overheated transformer is a sign that the insulation is breaking down, and that can directly cause it to fail.

What happens when the power goes out?

After the power goes out, what happens next depends entirely on your organization, who’s in the building, what they’re doing, and what kind of ongoing requirements you have that use power. 

For instance, if you’re just running a dental office, the lights will go out, and all your electric appliances and tools will stop working. It won’t be too big of a deal unless a patient is in the middle of a procedure. For the most part, everyone can just go home and come back when the power comes back on.

It’s much worse for a medical center where people live full-time, like a hospital or nursing home. In this case, all the equipment that requires power will stop working, including oxygen tanks, oxygen concentrators, adjustable beds, IV systems, and more. Even the air conditioning or heater will stop working. Some people’s lives depend on this equipment, so it’s essential to have a backup power source that kicks in immediately to provide continuous power.

Simple steps to prepare for the next power outage

Regardless of what type of healthcare organization you operate, here are some steps you can take to reduce the potential for an outage and mitigate the damage from situations you can’t prevent.

1. Have a UPS in place

An Uninterruptible Power Supply ensures you continue to have power in the building when your usual source of electricity cuts out. Having a whole-building UPS will ensure you have reliable power 24/7, and can also protect your equipment, including your computers.

It’s not good for electronic devices, especially those with hard drives, to be shut down by losing power. A USP ensures everything stays on, and you can choose to shut things down properly to preserve power for your other, more important equipment.

2. Have a plan

Having a plan should be a priority. What is the protocol when the power goes out? What will you do if power can’t be restored for a week? Document your plan on paper for easy reference.

Test your plan periodically

Last, but not least, test your equipment and your plan every once in a while. Make sure everyone knows what to do. The best UPS can fail if you don’t test it to know it works and how it functions.

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.