Electrostatic Charging of a Human Body Caused by Activities and Material Combinations in Hospitals

Mehdi Kohani, David Pommerenke, Lane Kinslow, Aniket Bhandare, Li Guan, Jianchi Zhou, Christopher Spencer, Michael G. Pecht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Electrostatic charging of hospital personnel and patients during various activities increases the risk of electrostatic discharge (ESD) malfunctions of medical devices and the likelihood of patients' adverse events. Therefore, the test level for ESD immunity of medical devices, specified in the IEC 60601-1-2 standard needs to reflect the reasonably maximum electrostatic voltages during usage. This study investigated the effects of material combinations and relative humidity on the body voltage while performing two routine clinical activities of lying down on a hospital bed and transferring to a bed using a sliding board. The peak body voltages in nearly 50% of the lying down experiments and 40% of sliding tests exceeded the test voltage level in the IEC 60601-1-2 standard (i.e., 15 kV). Using cotton blankets in lying down experiments and nylon sheets during sliding experiments resulted in 50% and 40% larger median than the median including all combinations, respectively. Sliding boards with antistatic coating reduced the peak body voltage by 24% on average, however, 33% of the tests still exceeded 15 kV. Based on the findings, recommendations are provided for healthcare facilities and medical device manufacturers to mitigate the risks of ESD malfunctions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8725946
Pages (from-to)315-323
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Electromagnetic Compatibility
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Hospitals
  • Electrostatics
  • Electrostatic discharges
  • Footwear
  • Medical devices
  • Standards
  • Cotton
  • Electrostatic discharge (ESD)
  • medical device
  • triboelectric charging
  • wearable device
  • medical device, triboelectric charging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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