RFID Poses Danger In Hospitals

Article

Dutch researchers find that RFID, tagged to hospital assets and, yes, even patients, can pose threats to ventilators, pacemakers and other life-saving equipment.

Dutch researchers find that radio frequency identification chips (RFID), tagged to hospital assets and, yes, even patients, can pose threats to ventilators, pacemakers and other life-saving equipment.

RFID is a very short-range radio technology that stores simple bits of information. Perhaps the most widespread use today is tagging pallets or other shipping containers with tags that describe the contents of the pallet. A worker passes a scanner near the tag and can automatically retrieve whatever information is stored on the tag. RFID tags began making inroads in hospitals and other health care environments to track and manage certain assets several years ago.

According to Erik Jan van Lieshout, a critical care physician at the Academic Medical Centre at the University of Amsterdam, the technology had not been tested for its interference characteristics. Short range it may be, but radio signals have wacky (yes, that's a technical term) behavior and you just never know how they are going to interact with the surrounding environment, including medical equipment. According to Reuters, Van Lieshout said, "We wanted to investigate the safety of RFID in health care because it hasn't been tested. This is the first study ever done on RFID interference within the hospital."

Van Lieshout and his team tested 41 different devices and uncovered 22 probems. Reuters reports, "Most of the hazardous incidents occurred at about 9.8 inches from the equipment, though they recorded problems up to six meters away. A hazardous incident was a problem that could directly endanger a patient while a significant incident was one requiring a nurse's attention but not something that put a person at immediate risk."

For the moment, the researchers are not suggesting that RFID be banned from hospitals. They are, however, cautioning that further testing is needed to make sure that using RFID around certain equipment isn't life-threatening.

RFID poses many benefits, but if they endanger patients, use in a hospital setting might need to be curtailed or restricted to certain areas.

Related Videos
Vlado Perkovic, MBBS, PhD | Credit: George Institute of Global Health
Elizabeth Aby, MD | Credit: Minnesota Health Fairview
Video 3 - "Insights Gleaned from Asthma Research for COPD"
Video 3 - "Insights Gleaned from Asthma Research for COPD"
Video 3 - "HIV Treatment: Discussing Adverse Events with Patients"
Prashant Singh, MD | Credit: University of Michigan
Sean Adrean, MD: Impact of Baseline VA on Aflibercept 8 mg Outcomes in DME | Image Credit: Linkedin
Video 3 - "Key Clinical Considerations in HIV Treatment Decisions"
© 2024 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.