IEEE Transactions on Electromagnetic Compatibility ( Early Access ), Preprint, May 29, 2019, DOI:10.1109/TEMC.2019.2914114

Electrostatic Charging of a Human Body Caused by Activities and Material Combinations in Hospitals

Mehdi Kohani 1, David Pommerenke 2, Lane Kinslow 3, Aniket Bhandare 4, Li Guan 2, Jianchi Zhou 2, Christopher Spencer 5, and Michael G. Pecht 1
1 Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742 USA
2 Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rolla, MO 65409-0001 USA
3 Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering, Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rolla, MO 65409-0001 USA
4 Micron Technology, Boise, ID 83707-0006 USA
5 Department of Radiation Oncology, Phelps County Regional Medical Center, Rolla, MO 65401 USA


Electrostatic charging of hospital personnel and patients during various activities increases the risk of electrostatic discharge (ESD) malfunctions of medical devices and the likelihood of patients’ adverse events. Therefore, the test level for ESD immunity of medical devices, specified in the IEC 60601-1-2 standard needs to reflect the reasonably maximum electrostatic voltages during usage. This study investigated the effects of material combinations and relative humidity on the body voltage while performing two routine clinical activities of lying down on a hospital bed and transferring to a bed using a sliding board. The peak body voltages in nearly 50% of the lying down experiments and 40% of sliding tests exceeded the test voltage level in the IEC 60601-1-2 standard (i.e., 15 kV). Using cotton blankets in lying down experiments and nylon sheets during sliding experiments resulted in 50% and 40% larger median than the median including all combinations, respectively. Sliding boards with antistatic coating reduced the peak body voltage by 24% on average, however, 33% of the tests still exceeded 15 kV. Based on the findings, recommendations are provided for healthcare facilities and medical device manufacturers to mitigate the risks of ESD malfunctions.

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