OK ... back to the topic; especially with regard to the original discussion about what has become the entrenched practice of users swapping (grabbing) detachable mains cables as as when needed, leaving them dangling (and engerized) from bedhead units ... and all the rest - and what our response should be. Perhaps the time has come to summarize the thread, and (who knows) seek out the latest opinions!

Specifically, I'm refering here to the ubiquitous detachable "IEC cables" that are found in hospitals these days in great number. In the UK these will be BS-1363 (most likely the sturdier BS-1363/A variety) fused plus with a three core cable rated at 10-Amps coupled to an IEC-60320 connector in C13 configuration. In other parts of the world the plug will be whichever one is used (and probably not fused); but the cable and IEC connector are likely to be the same as those mentioned.

A smaller number of other possibilities are bound to exist as well; BS-1363 to IEC C5, for example (as found connected to laptop chargers, and what-have-you), but for sake of argument let's stick with IEC C13 here.

In short, I believe we need to accept the situation as it is, then try to manage "our side of things" (electrical safety, mainly) as best we can. We need to accept that although we may have tested out a system only yesterday, its integrity may very well have already been brought into doubt (after a nurse has snatched up the mains cable for some other urgent task).

My suggestion is basically that all mains cables are equal!

What I mean is, as long as they they are not damaged, or proven to be faulty, then any one cable should be as good as the rest, or any other.

How do we get to this happy state of affairs? How about:-

1) Deciding upon (sourcing) a cable of sufficient quality that we biomeds will be happy with it! Then endeavouring to standarize on that one throughout.

2) Specify (and/or fit) a 10-Amp BS-1362 fuse (that is, a black one) in every plug top.

3) Don't be too fussy if equipment comes into the workshop without a cable. Similarly, don't worry about them being missing when kit is returned to the Equipment Library. But always issue a new cable to accompany the kit as it leaves the workshop or Library.

4) By all means check the complete equipment (that is, complete with cable - how else could you do it?) during PM and after repairs ... but more than that, be obsessive about checking every cable you come across as you stride around your domain.

5) ... and (whilst striding) carry a bag of new cables when out on your rounds so as to be able to swap any dodgy looking cable(s) encountered - then bring those back, cut off both ends, and discard them (the cables themselves may have some scrap value - and the fuses can be removed and used again). If you are feeling really macho you could always carry your side-cutters with you and so be able to impress anyone looking on by neutering those junk cables right there at the Nurses' Station!

6) Be assertive also when digging into the famous cupboards and "spare cables" drawers out on the wards. Drag out all the cables (as well as the rats' nests of old ECG lead wires, "mains adaptors" and all the rest) and bin them all! But be sure to leave a couple of your nice new cables with the Head Nurse before making good your escape.

By following such an approach as outlined above - and continuing to carry it through - you should ultimately end up with a hospital full of decent mains cables that you may be proud of (and confident in)!

In many ways good in-house tech support is a bit like husbandry. Anyone who has had anything to do with farming must have noticed the farmer wandering around, prodding here and there with his stick, and generally "making good" (mending fences, or whatever) as he went along; and not holding back when the time comes to cull (and thereby, improve) the herd! smile