Introduction/background Intensive care equipment is dependent on an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) in the event of power failure. It is important that medical and nursing staff have a basic knowledge of critical care equipment and are aware of guidelines/protocols in place, to prevent possible harm to patients in the event of mains power failure.
Method A questionnaire audit was performed amongst medical and nursing staff in all five neonatal intensive care units in Northern Ireland. The aim was to look at current practice, identify areas of staff knowledge regarding UPS principles and how to maintain critical care equipment in the event of power failure.
Results Eighty-eight (44%) questionnaires were returned. The results were as follows:
73% of respondents were aware their unit had UPS.
25% were unsure which items should be plugged into UPS.
58% were aware of the presence of back up batteries in critical care equipments.
In the event of power failure 81% of respondents said they would contact the nurse in charge whilst a technician was the next frequent point of contact, but there was no clear procedure beyond the initial contact.
Conclusions The results showed wide variation in staff knowledge regarding the availability of UPS, the presence of an internal back up battery and which equipment should be plugged into UPS circuits. There was also lack of guidance regarding whom to contact in the event of power failure. This study resulted in training, staff education and development of guidance regarding UPS circuits.