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What is a Nurse Call System?

What is a Nurse Call System? Nurse call systems, also known as Emergency Call Systems, are specialty electronic systems used to improve communication between patients and healthcare providers in hospitals, assisted living, independent living, rehabilitation centers, and senior skilled care environments. Nurse callsystems have specific performance requirements so that they will function when they are needed. In a hospital environment, nurse call systems must comply with the UL 1069 standard entitled “Hospital Signaling and Nurse Call Equipment.” UL1069 complies with all relevant articles of NFPA70 National Electrical Code and NFPA99 Health Care Facility Code. NFPA 101 Life Safety Code and 3 sets the fundamental requirement for nurse call systems, in that it defines a hospital as a building “where occupants sleep but are not reasonably able to evacuate themselves in an emergency.” Nurse call systems fulfill the code compliance role in a standards-based emergency signaling system required for patients who are immobile or confined to a bed and are not reasonably able to evacuate themselves in an emergency.

Recognizing the importance of nurse call systems to patient care, the FDA has classified them as Class I medical devices if the nurse call system electronically transfers, stores, converts, or displays medical device data. The FDA is calling these types of nurse call systems Medical Device Data Systems, or MDDS. Rauland Responder and AscomTelligence are examples of FDA-listed nurse call systems. As identified by the FDA, current nurse call systems are expanding in their scope and capability beyond communication between patient and healthcare providers to encompass interfaces into VoIP, Real-Time-Location Systems, Patient Monitoring, and integrating with Smart Beds to anticipate and alert before a patient fall occurs. Some nurse call systems include software features like Event Reporting and statistical information about Staff Productivity, Time at the Point-of-Care, and Call Response Times. Nurse call systems are merging communication between patients and healthcare providers, enabling new Quality Processes and Workflow Improvements in support of patient care. The nurse call system experts at Torrence have a thorough understanding of how nurse call systems can be integrated with other technologies to enhance patient care.

Where are nurse call systems required?

Where are nurse call systems required? In most states, the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) makes the final decision about where nurse call systems are required. Your State Department of Health or Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) are likely the AHJ’s that will require a nurse call system in a patient care area “where patients or residents will be in a condition of not reasonably being able to evacuate themselves in an emergency.” This requirement is set forth in NFPA 101 Life Safety Code and 3.

Nurse call systems may be put in place for reasons other than code compliance. Nurse call systems can improve Quality Processes and Workflow at the Point-of-Care and improve communication between patients and healthcare providers. Improving communication is an attribute that generally falls into the category of “Staffing” for agencies that rate the quality of Hospitals, Assisted Living, and Independent Living Facilities. Hospitals and nursing homes may put a nurse call system into areas to improve communication, striving for the highest possible “Staffing” score. The nurse call system experts at Torrence Sound are available to collaborate on how best to align technology with your patient care initiatives to improve patient care and your facility’s quality scores.

ANSI/UL 1069 vs. ANSI/UL 2560

What is the difference between a nurse call system for Hospitals and a nurse call system for Assisted Living and Independent Living Facilities? UL 1069 is the standard for Hospital nurse call systems. UL 2560 is the standard for nurse call and emergency call systems for Assisted Living and Independent Living Facilities. Both systems are very similar, and the user experience, features, and functionality of the two systems may be the same, but the governing standards are not. In general, the requirements for UL 1069 are more stringent than that of UL 2560. However, there are elements of the UL 1069 standard that disqualify it from being UL 2560 compliant. So, some Hospital nurse call systems may not be accepted for use in an Assisted Living and Independent Living Facility

Here are some of the differences between UL 1069 and 2560 nurse call systems. The fundamental emergency call system configuration defined in UL 2560 requires an integrated backup power supply, a component not required in all UL 1069 certified systems. UL 2560 also includes testing requirements or testing thresholds not found in UL 1069, such as submersion testing and minimum sound level requirements for audible indicators. Additionally, UL 2560 accounts for several life safety concerns unique to non-acute care settings, resulting in specific safety testing requirements that are distinct from those found in UL 1069.

UL 1069 includes numerous standards like maximum voltage and leakage current that address the safety of the system’s use in oxygen-rich environments. UL 1069 also requires call annunciation at a patient room dome light, so if a nurse call system does not include dome lights outside of each patient room, it cannot be UL 1069 compliant. Click the link to view the UL 1069 and 2560 Brochure.


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