-During the 1960’s, the use of electrical medical devices began to increase rapidly. By the early 1970’s, electrical safety in hospitals was in serious doubt. An article in Ladies Home Journal, by Ralph Nader talked about unsafe hospitals, and the danger of Micro-shock. They even quoted some experts estimating over 5000 undetected electrocutions in hospitals every year. These articles and some legitimate research spurred the creation of standards for electrical safety in hospitals.
During the seventies, much was debated about the actual hazards, and how extensive the problem might be. Standards for manufacturing and maintaining equipment were developed and quickly implemented. Clinical Engineering got its start at many hospitals during this time just to help comply with these new requirements.
When I entered this field in 1979, we tested most equipment with a connection to the patient monthly. A massive system of safety inspections often consumed more of our time than repair work. By the mid nineteen eighties, the improvement of equipment design, the data from all that testing, and the low incidence of shocks saw a change in the testing requirements. By the nineteen nineties, the standards had been reduced to annual testing for most devices, and many are tested once when received, and after repair work is completed.