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Radio Frequency ID May Hurt Medical Device

June 25, 2008

Radio frequency identification technology used in security cards and retail anti-theft tags may cause medical equipment to malfunction, Dutch researchers say.

Applications of auto-identification technologies such as radio frequency identification in everyday life include security access cards, electronic toll collection and anti-theft clips in retail clothing stores.

Remko van der Togt of Vrije University in Amsterdam and colleagues conducted a study in a controlled, non-clinical setting to assess and classify incidents of electromagnetic interference by the devices on critical care equipment. The tests were performed in a one-bed patient room in a hospital intensive care unit and with no patients present.

Electromagnetic interference by two radio frequency identification systems was assessed in the proximity of 41 medical devices — 17 categories, 22 different manufacturers — including items such as external pacemakers, mechanical ventilators, infusion/syringe pumps, dialysis devices, defibrillators, monitors and anesthesia devices.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found a total of 34 electromagnetic interference incidents; 22 were classified as hazardous, two as significant and 10 as light.




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