March 10, 2007

Mayo Clinic Researchers: Cell Phones In Hospitals No Big Deal

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From the March issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings:

Use of Cellular Telephones in the Hospital Environment
JEFFREY L. TRI, MSEE; RODNEY P. SEVERSON, CBET; LINDA K. HYBERGER, MA, CCRC; DAVID L. HAYES, MD

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether cellular telephones used in a normal way would cause interference with medical devices located in patient care areas of hospitals.

METHODS: Two cellular telephones from different cellular carriers were tested in various patient care areas between February 15, 2006, and June 29, 2006. To monitor the medical devices and equipment in the patient care areas during testing, we observed the device displays and alarms.

RESULTS: Interference of any type occurred in 0 of the 75 patient care rooms during the 300 tests performed. These 300 tests involved a total of 192 medical devices. The incidence of clinically important interference was 0% (95% confidence interval, 0%-4.8%).

CONCLUSIONS: Although cellular telephone use in general has been prohibited in hospitals because of concerns that these telephones would interfere with medical devices, this study revealed that when cellular telephones are used in a normal way no noticeable interference or interactions occurred with the medical devices.

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Science Daily has more details on the data from a Mayo Clinic press release.

Meanwhile, in the same issue is a report of a portable CD player interfering with an electrocardiogram [ECG] readout. One anecdote doesn't compare to 300 tests, I know, but what if I tell you it was reported by Dr. Steve Austin?

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Cell phones and other transmitting devices save lives, but get an iPod, people.

Study: No need to ban cell phones in hospitals [cnn
Huh? FoxNews Headline Dept? Mayo Clinic Study Finds Cellular Telephones May Interfere With Medical Devices [sciencedaily.com]

3 Comments

In (what seems like) a previous life, I designed and built medical equipment. The vast majority of medical devices are well-shielded (the all ALL supposed to be). This is done so that the devices don't interfere with each other. However, the leads and other external wires are more prone to interference. Cell phones shouldn't interfere, if they're well-designed (and, therein lies the rub).

That's Andre the Giant (sans posse) in that bigfoot outfit, btw

Sorry for the typos in my parenthetical above--and anywhere else; I'm still (again?) sleep-deprived after the birth of our second kid 2 week ago.

For the record, that should have read: they ALL are supposed to be

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