The "Leakage Current Sentinel": A novel plug-in socket device for online biomedical equipment electrical safety surveillance

Paolo Cappa, Franco Marinozzi, Salvatore Andrea Sciuto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Leakage Current Sentinel (LCS) has been designed and implemented for the detection of hazardous situations caused by dangerous earth leakage current values in intensive care units and operating theaters. The device, designed and manufactured with full compliance of the high risk environment requirements, is able to monitor online the earth leakage current and detect ground wire faults. Operation utilizes a microammeter with an overall sensitivity of 2.5 × 104 V/A. In order to assure the reliability of the device in providing alarm signals, the simultaneous presence of absorbed power current is monitored by means of another ammeter with decreased sensitivity (3.0 V/A). The measured root mean square current values are compared with reference values in order to send signals to NAND and OR complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor gates to enable audible and visible alarms according to the possible hazardous cases examined in the article. The final LCS packaging was shaped as a wall socket adapter for common electromedical device power cord plugs, with particular attention to minimizing its dimensions and to provide analog voltage outputs for both measured leakage and power currents, in order to allow automatic data acquisition and computerized hazardous situation management. Finally, a personal computer based automatic measuring system has been configured to simultaneously monitor several LCSs installed in the same intensive care unit room and, as a consequence, to distinguish different hazardous scenarios and provide an adequate alert to the clinical personnel whose final decision is still required. The test results confirm the effectiveness and reliability of the LCS in giving an alert in case of leakage current anomalous values, either in case of a ground fault or in case of a dangerous leakage current.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2862-2866
Number of pages5
JournalReview of Scientific Instruments
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • Instrumentation


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