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Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 5
Wolfman Offline OP
Junior Member
Please help with a code interpretation problem.
The question is with article 517 and is whether hospital rated devices are required.
The facility; an urgent care facility combined with physical therapy. It includes 7 examination rooms, 1 procedure room, and an X-Ray room.
The local inspector says hospital rated is required in the above areas per article 517-18 (b), I disagree for the following reasons.
By definition these rooms are, Patient Care Areas - (a) General care areas to include, patient bedrooms, examining rooms, treatment rooms, clinics, and similar areas.
517-18 (b) singles out patient bedrooms but does not have in the title, or paragraph, the names of the other areas listed in the definition therefore implying that the other areas not mentioned need not be included.
If exam rooms were to be included by virtue of being in the same group as patient bedrooms, treatment rooms, clinics, and similar areas. Then would not the title be, General Care Areas Receptacles?
Couldn’t one also conclude that if 517-18 (b) applies to these areas then also 517-18 (a) should apply also?
The engineered print does not spec hospital grade devices, nor does it require a second branch emergency circuit, implying that the engineer was on the same page as I. However when I called them I was told that this was a gray area due to State of Washington specs. And I didn’t get a clear answer from them either.
I checked the WAC (Washington Code) and all it indicates is that these areas fall under Article 517 NEC.
The job was not bid for these expensive devices due to it not being on the print specs. and we really don’t want to get into one of those “who pays for the xtras” battle.
Your opinions will be appreciated, thanks.

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Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 2,056
I haven't done Health Care Facility work, but, after reviewing your points, I see it your way. You will probably have to conced to the inspector, though.
Did your bid specify that the work will be performed as per the drawings (which did not call for Hospital Grade devices)? If so, that may be your best approach to appeal to the GC or customer.

Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 5,392
thought this might help.... [Linked Image]

Joined: May 2001
Posts: 176
Having been in the design of electrical systems for a number of years, I would be inclined to agree with the inspector based on Art 517-2. Part B, Art. 517-10 gives the areas not subject to the installation of "hospital grade" devices. Once these areas are a eliminated, the rest become subject to Art. 517.

Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 5
Wolfman Offline OP
Junior Member
Warren, this is the sort of thing that is causing the problem. It appears as if you didn't read the definitions in the code before making a decision, same thing with the inspectors.
Art. 517 does not in essence say " heres a list of areas that do not apply, but ALL other areas have to have hospital grade outlets". Art 517 is not just about hospital grade devices! Using your line of reasoning, the areas in question should also require an emergency back up circuit among other things.
Look at Art.517-3 Definitions. The definition for "Patient Bed Location" is very clear. Do my exam rooms have an inpatient sleeping bed? No. Are my exam rooms classified as a critical patient care area with a procedure table? No Therefore my exam rooms by definition are not "Patient Bed Locations". They are exam rooms.
They are simply "Patient Care Areas /General Care Areas".Think of a Hospital room, they have 2 beds for inpatient sleeping, thus 2 patient bed locations. Keyword here "locations" 517-18 a and b are talking about locations not rooms, there could be many, or no locations within one room. My rooms have none, they are just exam rooms. Also how could anyone insist that 517-18(b)could be applied to a room, but not 517-18(a), using the same reasoning?

Joined: May 2001
Posts: 176
In responding to your questions concerning Art. 517, I had (have) no intentions of getting into an argument, as Art. 517 has a multitude of requirements to contend with. However, you are right by stating that I had not read (or re-read) the definitions in this article. In your original post you stated your disagreement with the inspector and your reasons. I merely stated that I would be inclined to agree with the inspector.
If I had been the designer of the facility, I would have been looking more closely at the entire Scope of the project. Having that Scope in hand may cause me to be more inclined to agree with you.
In looking at the definitions (as you suggested)under Patient Care Areas, it says the governing body of the facility designates the uses of these areas for the anticipated patient care. The engineer should have consulted the governing body to clarify the use of these areas. Otherwise,in the design of these type areas, if I have to error, I would rather error on the safe side than on an unsafe one. If I were the installer, I would have also asked the question of usage with a proposal in hand to save the owner money by installing spec. grade in lieu of hospital grade (depending on quantity, of course, and if in fact there would be a savings).
Would you consider ER a general care area or a critical care area? It, in fact, serves as both, and would require the most stringent of hospital grade equipment. Some of the areas you are questioning may serve as both and may in fact require a more stringent approach, depending on the governing body of the facility. That may be what your inspector is thinking. And if he thinks safety is an issue, then that could be his reasoning for requiring hospital rated devices.
When it comes to safety, I will never knowingly compromise personal or personnel safety for convenience or cost in any of my design work, as I am sure you will not do so in your work.
I appreciate your thought provoking question and your responses.

Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 5
Wolfman Offline OP
Junior Member
I'm with you there. I am the only the installer on this job. Had I been the bidder or possibly the engineer I would have called the inspector in advance and had a discussion to head off any potential problems like this. On the up side in my asking around I heard a rumor that there has been so much confusion with 517 that they are going to completely re do the whole section. Thanks for your opinion.

Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 246
Wolfman, a couple of thoughts here.

You said: "The facility; an urgent care facility combined with physical therapy."
Since "urgent care" is not defined in the NEC, which patient care area are we talking about?

If Urgent Care = General Care, then you are correct in your remarks.

However, in reading this, I would think Urgent Care = Critical Care, in which the requirements of Section 517-19 would come into play.

In order for Section 517-18 to be applied, the area has to be a "General Care Area", and be an area not exempted by exception 1 or 2 of Section 517-18(a), or exception 1 or 2 of Section 517-18(b).

You can have a patient bed location in a General Care Area, such as a hospital, because of the sleeping provision of the definition of "Patient Bed Location". In this type of location, (hospital, etc...), one is required to have a minimum of 4 receptacles, listed "hospital grade".

In your case, if this is not a critical care area, there is no requirement for hospital grade recs. If this "urgent care" is really a "critical care" area, the requirement stands.

In either location, Section 517-13 (metal raceways & insulated copper grounding conductor) would also apply.

Hope this helps.

Rick Miell

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