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Study: Is RFID Safe for Use with Medical Devices

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Friday, June 27, 2008 11:07 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, RFID, Medical Devices, Medical Technology


IMAGE SOURCE: iStockphoto/ medical solutions/ author: © gmutlu

A new study, by six Dutch scientists suggests radio frequency identification technology (RFID) has the potential to interfere with medical devices.

The study found that electromagnetic interference (EMI), produced by tracking-and-tracing chips in medical equipment can cause a potential disruption in medical devices which can be a safety hazard to patients.

The study is published in the June issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Scientist observed both passive (requires a reader) and active (info-transmitting) RFID systems during the study and found that 34 adverse medical incidents occurred out of 123 EMI tests - 22 were classified as hazardous, 2 as significant and 10 as light, based on a critical-care adverse events scale.

During the study, the median distance between the RFID reader and the medical device in all EMI incidents was about 30 centimeters (about one foot in distance).

Active signals had fewer incidents than passive RFID systems – eight incidents in 41 EMI tests (20 percent), in comparison to 26 incidents in 41 EMI tests (63 percent).

The tests were performed at the Academic Medical Center in the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, in May 2006, using an active 125KHz RFID system and passive 868MHz in the vicinity of 41 medical devices from 22 manufacturers, within 17 categories. Three tests were performed on each medical device.

The study determined, in a controlled nonclinical setting, RFID influenced the potential for dangerous incidents in medical devices. It is recommended that utilization of RFID in critical care environments should require on-site EMI testing and updating of international standards. #

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