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How good public address and intercom systems help save lives in hospitals

How good public address and intercom systems help save lives in hospitals
Good communication plays a crucial role in saving lives in hospital environments. Hospital staff must be able to reach the necessary medical professionals at all times. On a more basic level, hospital staff must also be able to make general and emergency announcements hospital-wide and know the correct people are hearing it. That is why hospital communication systems, like intercom and public address (PA) systems, are so important for the health and safety of all those that step foot in a hospital.

As technology has improved, so have intercom and PA systems. More and more these communication systems are going IP and replacing older legacy, wired systems. This not only gives hospitals more flexibility, but also provides better sound quality and more integration with other systems, like video surveillance, access control and nurse call systems.

What hospital operators look for in PA and intercom systems

Having strong communication systems, such as a public address (PA) and intercom systems, in place can be the difference between life and death in a hospital environment.

A reliable public address (PA) system and intercom system are essential components of a hospital communication systems. There must be fast and efficient means for medical personnel, hospital staff, patients and visitors to communicate. From a hospital operator’s point of view, the requirements for communication systems are high and strict. Not only do these systems need to be in compliance with certain standards, they must also meet the individual needs of each hospital unit.

Compliance with standards

From a standards point of view, IEC 60601-1 is the international technical standard that governs the safety of medical electrical equipment used in health care facilities — this includes intercom systems and PA systems. This standard is widely accepted in the U.S., Japan, Brazil, Russia and Australia, and has identical European (EN 60601-1) and Canadian (CSA 60601-1) counterparts. These standards cover safety, performance and electromagnetic compatibility and apply to all medical electrical equipment and medical electrical systems.

Today, the importance of these standards cannot be underestimated. In many countries, compliance with IEC 60601-1 is required for the commercialization of electrical medical equipment. Furthermore, these standards are regularly updated to reflect changes in current technology. For example, later revisions have included wireless and Bluetooth connectivity, which did not exist when the standard was first created. There have even been standards added for environmentally conscious design.

Integration with other systems

Today, most operators are looking for intercom and PA systems that are interoperable with low voltage systems, like nurse call or emergency call systems, according to Thomas Ahern, Engineered Solutions and Services Manager at AtlasIED. In the U.S., all acute and sub-acute health care facilities have some type of nurse call system policed by code UL 1069; this standard addresses hospital signaling and nurse call equipment found in the hospital environment.

“They also tend to require features that assist with the caregivers’ daily work flow. For example, they’d make overhead pages from mobile devices; the nurse call devices trigger pre-recorded message saving critical seconds during a code emergency,” Ahern said. “Certain priority codes used by the caregivers (i.e., code blue, code pink, code silver, etc.) may require multiple means of transmitting the message. An accompanied over page is typical and is a critical part of the notification process.”

Jacques Technologies offers a security communication solution for hospitals with fully-integrated video surveillance, access control, telephony and building and security management systems. “This system ensures critical communication is delivered from various locations of a hospital followed by a detailed report of events,” said Rebecca Richardson, Product Innovation and Marketing Manager at Jacques Technologies.

Ahern also noted how mass communication and PA systems in health care facilities are also integrating with digital signage. “When it is time to send a building-wide notification about a lockdown or alert the masses of a severe security breach digital signage is a means of getting a detailed message out along with possible evacuation information. To deliver a unified message it is very important that public address and digital signage send messages that work together to inform,” he said.

Product Adopted:
Public Address / Party Paging System

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