This article provides a review of the significant changes to the rules for healthcare facilities contained in Chapter 5, Special Occupancies, in the 2017 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC).

517.2 Governing Body of Health Care Facilities

The term “governing body” appears in multiple sections in NEC Article 517. A new definition of the term has been added to Section 517.2 to meet NEC Style Manual requirements. The new definition correlates between NFPA 99, Health Care Code, and NFPA 70, National Electrical Code, as it is an extracted definition. This definition is important because it directly relates to the governing body that makes decisions about the level of patient care in all facility spaces. A critical aspect of the new definition is that this body has the overall legal responsibility for the operation of the healthcare facility.

517.2 Invasive Procedure

A new definition of the term “invasive procedure” has been added to 517.2 and includes any procedure that penetrates the protective surfaces of a patient’s body (i.e., skin, mucous membrane, cornea) and that is performed with an aseptic field. Note that not included in this category are placement of peripheral intravenous needles or catheters used to administer fluids or medications, gastrointestinal endoscopies, insertion of urethral catheters and other similar procedures. This revision aligns NEC Article 517 with the term defined and used in NFPA 99, Health Care Facilities Code.

517.2 Patient Care Spaces

The defined terms under the main definition of “patient care space” have been revised, and descriptive informational notes follow each term. The revisions incorporate numerical categories 
(1 through 4) following each definition, and the bracketed information contains the location of the extract. The care locations within a healthcare facility are now defined as “spaces” and are each provided with a specific category that indicates the level of care under that designation. The revision aligns Article 517 with terms defined and used within NFPA 99. 

517.16 Use of Isolated 
Grounding Receptacles

This section has been expanded into two subdivisions. Subdivision (A) provides a clear prohibition of isolated grounding (IG) receptacles within any patient-care vicinity and is extracted from NFPA 99. Subdivision (B) provides allowable installations of IG receptacles that are outside of a defined patient-care vicinity. IG receptacles must be wired to meet the requirements in 517.13(A) and (B) and include an insulated copper equipment grounding conductor for the IG receptacle in accordance with 250.146(D). The wire-type insulated equipment grounding conductors are required, and the conductor installed for the IG receptacle must be identified with green insulation that includes one or more yellow stripes.

517.29 Essential Electrical Systems for Hospitals and Other Health Care Facilities

A new Section 517.29 has been added in Part III of Article 517. This provides information relative to types of essential electrical systems (EESs) required for Category 1 and Category 2 care locations. Subdivision (B) clarifies that critical care (Category 1) spaces shall be served only by a Type 1 EES. The type designations for the essential electrical systems in healthcare facilities are new to Article 517, and they align with the “Type 1” and “Type 2” designations included in NFPA 110, Standard for Emergency and Standby Power Systems.

517.30 Sources of 
Power Expanded

The required sources of power have been relocated from Section 517.35 to 517.30 for usability. Fuel cells are now included as a source of power for the essential electrical system, and it must be listed for that use. Subdivision (C) has been revised to remove the subjective phrase “careful consideration” and now clearly includes mandatory requirements for location of EES components and services.

517.40 Essential Electrical System for Nursing Homes and Limited Care Facilities

The words “Type 2” have been added to the title of 517.40. The revision clarifies the type of EES required for nursing homes and limited-care facilities. The informational note assigns categories to the types of care in these facilities and provides the trigger for application of 517.29 through 30.

Next month’s column will look at more key revisions in Chapter 5 and revisions in Chapters 6 through 8. For more, visit