Q. What are the grounding requirements for equipment in a patient care area?

A. Patient care areas include patient rooms as well as examining rooms, therapy areas, examining and treatment rooms, and some patient corridors. They do not include business offices, corridors, lounges, day rooms, dining rooms, or similar areas not classified as patient care areas [517.2].

All branch circuits serving patient care areas must be provided with an effective ground-fault current path by installing circuits that serve patient care areas in a metal raceway or cable having a metallic armor or sheath that qualifies as an equipment grounding conductor in accordance with 250.118 [517.13(A)].

The metal outer sheath of AC cable is listed as an equipment grounding conductor because it contains an internal bonding strip in direct contact with the metal sheath of the cable [250.118(8)]. The metal outer sheath of interlocked Type MC cable is not listed as an equipment grounding conductor unless it contains a bare aluminum conductor that makes direct contact with the metal sheath of the cable [250.118(10)(a)].

In patient care areas, the grounding terminals of receptacles and conductive surfaces of fixed electrical equipment must be connected to an insulated copper equipment grounding conductor. The circuit equipment grounding conductor must be sized in accordance with 250.122, and the wiring method must meet the requirements of 517.13(A) [517.13(B)].

Metal faceplates for switches and receptacles can be connected to the equipment grounding conductor by the metal mounting screws that secure the faceplate to a metal outlet box or metal mounting yoke of switches [404.9(B)] and receptacles [406.3(C)] according to 517.13(B), Ex 1.

Luminaires located more than 7½ ft above the floor can be connected to the equipment grounding return path complying with 517.13(A), without being connected to an insulated equipment grounding conductor [517.13(B), Ex 2].