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NURSE CALL SYSTEMS


specification is increased. Whatever cable is used, the key rule for Ethernet cabling is 100 m maximum from point to point.


IP nurse call systems So how might IP be applied to nurse call systems? There are different options for IP nurse call systems. The actual IP element can extend just to ward level or right down to the bedhead unit – the ‘end point’– or anywhere in between. The choice will largely depend on the facilities and functionality required and whether the project is a refurbishment with existing cable containment and conduit, or a new site development where structured wiring will be installed throughout. Although there are a number of variations, there are probably just three basic designs and architecture of systems to consider. We will briefly review


each one and also look at their application. IP to a ward: This application is used


The use of IP for nurse call systems is growing.


understand the messages coming from different systems. Much as we might need a translator when


someone speaks a different language, each system requires interfaces to translate the different messages. This requirement has led to a growing number of providers of ‘middleware’ or ‘translation software’. In addition, as the popularity and use of IP


grows, most of the standard and well-accepted protocols such as MODBUS, LONWORKS, and BACNET are being developed on to an IP platform to allow them to fully integrate. The rather simplistic illustration (Fig. 1) is


useful to show the principles of an Ethernet based LAN, which is probably the most widely used type of LAN. This is a generic application that could relate to a computer


network, a BMS system, a nurse call system or any other Ethernet based LAN. Traditionally, however, nurse call systems


have been bus-wired. The key difference to bear in mind with regard to nurse call is that a LAN is a point-to-point network with one piece of equipment or switch at the end of each run of the structured cable network. The LAN cable should be Cat 5e as a minimum. Higher specification cables are quite commonly specified for example Cat 6 or Cat 7 and these allow a much higher bandwidth. However, for the purposes of nurse call, Cat 5e is commonly used and with a capacity of 100Mbps (mega bits) is adequate. So the choice of cable is really about what


is required to be transmitted across the network with cable costs increasing as the


where the nurse call is required to connect to the LAN (IP) at a single point in the ward to enable facilities such as central data-logging or transfer of calls. It is really just a more modern version of some of the networking of systems that have been in use for some time with nurse call. The LAN could be specific to the nurse call system, but more likely it will be part of a site wide LAN used for other services and facilities. This illustration is typical of many bus-wired


systems widely used throughout the world. The bus and power cables are wired from the network link around the ward to all the bedheads and other nurse call equipment and then back to the network link. Ancillary items such as over doors and pull cords are wired from the equipment connected to the bus. As cabling within the wards is consistent with the traditionally used bus-wired


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