Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

RFID Tags Can Interfere With Medical Devices

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the mind-how-you-radiate dept.

Medicine 120

An anonymous reader writes "A new study suggests RFID systems can cause 'potentially hazardous incidents in medical devices.' (Here is the JAMA study's abstract.) Among other things, electrical interference changed breathing machines' ventilation rates and caused syringe pumps to stop. Some hospitals have already begun using RFID tags to track a wide variety of medical devices, but the new finding suggests the systems may have unintended consequences."

cancel ×

120 comments

This is too much (2, Insightful)

Mensa Babe (675349) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925395)

The radio frequency identification, or RFID, is an inherently flawed idea [wikipedia.org] . It is a technological solution to a social problem that it created. It is a threat to our security [cnet.com] , our privacy [junkbusters.com] , our freedom [spychips.com] , and now also our health! And this is not a just conspiracy theory. Some of the most respectable members of our society are protesting against RFID technology, including Bruce Schneier [schneier.com] and even Richard Stallman [stallman.org] . My only question is, how much more insult to our intelligence can we take as a society before we start actively protesting? Our freedom, our privacy, our health and our dignity is being taken from us and all we can do is complain on the Internet? Where are the protesting groups? Where are the outraged people desperate to change the situation? Where are the angry mobs? What else are we going to let them take away from us before we stop talking and start acting?

Re:This is too much (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23925525)

By merely asking the questions and and taking an outraged tone you're really doing no more than the people you're chastising. Instead of making vague mentions of what "we" should do, name a time and a place for people in your area to congregate and discuss action to take, and perhaps set up a website to help others in their area do the same.

I don't disagree with your sentiment one bit, which is why I encourage you to take your own advice.

If you're now thinking that I'm a hypocrite for not doing the same I'll simply point out that I'm on the wrong side of the Atlantic for this particular issue, but when it comes to taking action against this here I'll be more then happy to do my part.

Re:This is too much (4, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925545)

Right. Because "quickly locating a very expensive portable medical device which may have been left in the wrong room in a 10,000-room hospital" is a problem that didn't exist before those evil overlords invented it. Heck, even the "gee it would be nice to track my supply chain better" problems are fundamentally real. And these things work.

You talk of privacy issues and such? Oh, you betcha! They're real. But you can't pretend it's not a useful technology. That is the real insult to intelligence in this thread.

Re:This is too much (2, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 6 years ago | (#23926381)

But you can't pretend it's not a useful technology.
If they want to put them on expensive medical equipment, I'm OK with that. But I absolutely don't want them on anything I carry,or wear, or my car, or my bike, not even my rollerblades. Certainly not on my currency or anything I use as currency. And I don't want them on my self (Google "SWIFT" and be appalled).

Besides the fact that I find this surveillance culture creepy as hell, and absolutely do not trust any of the people who are likely to have access to the data, there are the clear religious implications, since as everybody knows THEY ARE THE MARK OF MOTHERFUCKING CAIN AND THEIR USE HERALDS THE COMING OF THE ANTICHRIST (or something).

Other than that, I'm cool with the RFIDs.

Re:This is too much (2, Informative)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 6 years ago | (#23926633)

"quickly locating a very expensive portable medical device which may have been left in the wrong room in a 10,000-room hospital"
Who/what are you quoting? RFID is good at identifying things you have, not finding things you've lost. Distances like 30 cm aren't much help "in a 10,000-room hospital".

Re:This is too much (2, Interesting)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 6 years ago | (#23927035)

Actually, my company occasionally works with active, battery-powered RFID tag technology. They chirp location beacons by themselves. I understand most of the applications are currently more "warehouse" than "hospital", though.

Re:This is too much (1)

blincoln (592401) | more than 6 years ago | (#23927119)

Also, if you have scanners in highly-trafficked doorways, you can at least get a good idea of where a passively-tagged item is based on the last one it passed through, and possibly the last few (to give you a rough vector).

Re:This is too much (2, Interesting)

GoodNicksAreTaken (1140859) | more than 6 years ago | (#23929461)

Who/what are you quoting? RFID is good at identifying things you have, not finding things you've lost. Distances like 30 cm aren't much help "in a 10,000-room hospital".
You know, like how a barcode can't tell you where your package is if it is 1,000 miles away. Distances like 5cm aren't much help on a planet this size.

Re:This is too much (3, Insightful)

SomeJoel (1061138) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925573)

Are you suggesting that because of some perceived misuse of the technology, we should protest its existence? RFID readers are used in some semiconductor manufacturing fabs to track carriers (and hence wafers). These allow for faster and easier reading than other tracking devices, such as barcode readers. This generally make an automated fab run more smoothly, and increases throughput. I don't think this particular use violates your security, privacy, or freedom.

Re:This is too much (4, Insightful)

Awptimus Prime (695459) | more than 6 years ago | (#23926897)

I am on the same page as you. I suspect I am old enough to be one of the few people here who have had to do pre-IT work in my younger days. I once worked for a gigantic (800,000 sq ft) food distribution center. Many times, the outside of pallets "packages" would have the bar codes scraped off them due to handling with forklifts, lift-clamps, etc. If I had the option of just driving a big palette of food products through a scanning device that counted the products and gave me weights automatically, it would have added up to likely 10 hours of time saved per loader a week. Not to mention the hazards of having to get on and off an industrial lift repeatedly all day long, the shock to joints, the static discharge (sometimes reaching an 8" arc), and so on would have been nice to cut down on.

My impression with a lot of the folks who play a scared advocate on such technologies don't have much of a grasp of what the rest of the world has to put up with in their day-to-day experiences and could care less about their lives being easier, because, there *might* be some madman somewhere ready to spy on them given the chance. These same people probably do their banking online, have credit cards, and homes without decent security systems. Those are the real things to worry about, in my opinion.

This same line of thought often reminds me of the "sticking it to the man" attitude I see around here a lot. Like "It's about time Company X learned it's lesson", well, Company X doesn't usually learn a lesson. The individuals on the lower end of the employment ladder just get treated worse, while the shareholders and executives don't really have much to worry about. Or, "Corporate greed", got to love that one. It's the individual greed of many people combined with a lot of Joes trying to keep their households afloat. There I go rambling again.

Re:This is too much (1, Interesting)

Gewalt (1200451) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925579)

My only question is, how much more insult to our intelligence can we take as a society before we start actively protesting?

Yea, um. Ok, I'll start protesting against the insult to my intelligence that is your posts. I mean, since you requested action, I feel compelled to deliver.

Re:This is too much (2, Funny)

fragmentate (908035) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925635)

You had me...

Right up until you brought up Richard Stallman.

That guy would protest clean underwear, not just RFID tagged underwear.

Next.

Re:This is too much (1)

Repton (60818) | more than 6 years ago | (#23927031)

Nothing wrong with clean underwear, but if you're wearing underwear, anyone who doubts its cleanliness should be able to inspect it themselves.

Oh, please (4, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925655)

Lets take these points one by one. First, it is not a flawed idea, it is a flawed implementation. All privacy concerns can be easily mitigated, with or without cooperation from RFID manufacturers. Pop your undies in the microwave for ten seconds and they won't be reporting back to the mothership, don't worry. Second, they are a technological solution to a physical, not social problem: inventory tracking. The fact that they are being used in other ways does not change the fact that this is what they were invented for, and they do a good job keeping costs down and efficiency up.

Bruce was complaining about their use in passports. So, screen the passports so they can't be read unless opened. Besides the passport issue, here is Stallman's fear:

Progress in gel batteries could result in RFIDs readable from 300 feet. If one of them is inserted in something you carry, you could be scanned from a block away! Total monitoring of everyone's movements could be a reality.
Gosh, that could never happen with any other kind of technology, oh wait, spies have been doing that for years, and tracking people over a much longer distance. How would protesting RFID change that, exactly? There are much, much scarier things to protest against than RFID tags, get some perspective please.

Re:Oh, please (5, Funny)

johnny cashed (590023) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925773)

Pop your undies in the microwave for ten seconds and they won't be reporting back to the mothership, don't worry.

But it is what's in my undies that concerns me...

on another tangent...

But how do I know that my microwave doesn't have an RFID reader that enables it to know that there is an RFID tag inside and it only goes through the motions of microwaving my undies, thereby rendering any RFID chip(s) in my undies untouched and fully functional? Far fetched? Future microwave dinners and popcorn might have RFID tags embedded which tell various microwave oven how long to cook the product. Can I get thicker tinfoil for my hat?

Re:Oh, please (3, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925849)

Oh man, you are using actual tinfoil for your hat? You know that's made from aluminum, right? Aluminum amplifies the mind control rays.

Re:Oh, please (2, Funny)

johnny cashed (590023) | more than 6 years ago | (#23926001)

No No, it's tinfoil all right. It says so on the label...wait a minute, how do I know if Fisher Scientific isn't in on it as well... Everyone is conspiring against me...

Re:Oh, please (2, Funny)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925921)

Fear not, Ice T and Henry Rollins will have a microwave that is free of government control. You will be able to take your undies to them for sanitization.

Re:Oh, please (2, Funny)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 6 years ago | (#23927809)

But how do I know that my microwave doesn't have an RFID reader that enables it to know that there is an RFID tag inside and it only goes through the motions of microwaving my undies, thereby rendering any RFID chip(s) in my undies untouched and fully functional? Far fetched? Future microwave dinners and popcorn might have RFID tags embedded which tell various microwave oven how long to cook the product. Can I get thicker tinfoil for my hat?
Simple, but some pizza in cheese and nachos in thier with your undies,
if the cheese melts, the microwave worked your undies are now untaged
if the cheese doesn't melt, the microwave is goverment controlled AND you dont have any cheese nachos, so you pretty fucked tbh.

Re:Oh, please (1)

wooferhound (546132) | more than 6 years ago | (#23928265)

You need to get an Open Source microwave oven

Re:Oh, please (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23928279)

Well, just stick an AOL CD in there with it. If the AOL CD is disabled, then so is your underwear. ;)

-Huck

Re:Oh, please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23927285)

they are a technological solution to a physical, not social problem: inventory tracking.

Bruce was complaining about their use in passports. So, screen the passports so they can't be read unless opened.

First off passports already are designed to not be readable unless they're opened. The real problem is where they can be opened. I'm guessing you've never been to Europe? Lots of hotels in England, France, German and many other countries will look at your passport. Which means anyone with a cheap RFID reader that's sitting in the lobby can get a quick grab of your identity, places visited and even a picture of you.
As you say they're for inventory tracking. Last I checked I'm not "inventory". Anything that furthers the conversion of people to inventory won't end well.

Re:Oh, please (2, Insightful)

KGIII (973947) | more than 6 years ago | (#23930191)

Err... Don't the RFID tags actually, you know, just exist? They don't acquire new data (such as where you've been) I don't think? If they did then I got my information mixed up which isn't entirely unlikely. But, assuming that they contain only the picture of you (and perhaps your country of origin) then wouldn't the person in the hotel lobby just get, you know, a picture of you (which they'd already seen you and stuffs) and your country of origin which, well, is probably something they could figure out pretty easily by listening to your accent? It seems like a rather silly way to spend your money when you can likely just ask the average (non-spy) tourist, "Hey, where are you from?" They'll probably happily tell you. Add to that a cell phone and, well, you get their picture too. But, maybe I'm getting the technology wrong... They call 'em RFID readers, not RFID R/Ws so I'm pretty sure they just store the above mentioned static data.

Re:Oh, please (1)

jnork (1307843) | more than 6 years ago | (#23927933)

"Pop your undies in the microwave for ten seconds and they won't be reporting back to the mothership, don't worry."

I first read this as "reporting back to the motherchip". Heh, heh.

I like it. :)

Re:This is too much (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925659)

My only question is (well, your first question anyway) , how much more insult to our intelligence can we take as a society before we start actively protesting? Our freedom, our privacy, our health and our dignity is being taken from us and all we can do is complain on the Internet? Where are the protesting groups? Where are the outraged people desperate to change the situation? Where are the angry mobs? What else are we going to let them take away from us before we stop talking and start acting?

Let's take this one question at a time:

how much more insult to our intelligence can we take as a society before we start actively protesting?
Until the insult turns into something that physically hurts.

Our freedom, our privacy, our health and our dignity is being taken from us and all we can do is complain on the Internet?
Pretty much, yeah.

Where are the protesting groups?
Panem et Circenses my friend.

Where are the outraged people desperate to change the situation? Where are the angry mobs?
See previous question.

What else are we going to let them take away from us before we stop talking and start acting?
I suspect some modern form of prima nocturne. But even then, there's TV to distract them.

Re: 'mensa' indeed.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23926291)

1) The summary of the article was so incomplete that no conclusion can be drawn from the summary. Forget about even repeating the experiment. What does "mean distance" actually mean. Does that mean devices were tried at various distances and the average was 30cm? Were the results repeatable? I think the FCC requires 8" clearance from antenna.
2) Its a logical fallacy to state that because so-and-so says its bad, it must be bad.
3) Passive RFID uses open frequencies the same ones your wireless phone uses (or used to use). To say RFID is dangerous is to say wireless phones are dangerous.

And yes, I know hospitals and airplanes make you turn your cell phones (different frequencies) off - but the real risk even there is small.
Computer World [computerworld.com]

As for those afraid of being spied on. A microwave oven will toast a chip in about 2 seconds. A chip buried in your body won't work at all (you are after all "ugly bags of mostly salt water" wikipedia

As for Schneier's comments. Passive RFID is not by itself secure. It was never intended to be. There is not enough computational horsepower to do any real encryption. The tags must get their power over the air - beamed to them...
However, RFID is still subject to laws of physics. You can easily prevent someone, even with an over-powered RFID reader from reading your passport - or even knowing your passport has an RFID chip in it. A thin piece of aluminum foil would do it.

The real tough part is that with RFID + facial recognition there is no need for the customs official anymore. Who is going to tell them they are out of a job. Their lives would be reduced to random spot checks. I could just walk straight in to the country. Once inside, cover the passport in foil and back to anonymous.

Re: 'mensa' indeed.... (1)

KGIII (973947) | more than 6 years ago | (#23930241)

Wild stab in the dark? Hospitals are tracking inventory better. Big medical industries aren't selling replacements as often nor as many spares. Big name medical journal uses flawed methods to find a minimal risk and then uses FUD to get the message across. Just a guess and likely I need a tinfoil beany after that one but, well, it seemed logical after my midwife g/f showed me the conflicting information put out by this same journal and then went on to try to get midwifery outlawed. (A tad bit silly an effort in many areas as a lot of areas actually recognize that the midwife, as a profession, probably came into being just after hooker and lawyer did.)

Re:This is too much (1)

utopianfiat (774016) | more than 6 years ago | (#23926607)

yhbt lol
Are you serious? Nobody caught this? The poster's name is MENSA BABE ffs!! His signature uses BRITISH SPELLING!! His writing style comes straight out of Hillary Clinton's campaign!

This man may be the biggest troll in the world.

Re:This is too much (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 6 years ago | (#23926763)

His signature uses BRITISH SPELLING!!
I hate to break it to you, but his (?) sig does not contain British spelling (or even "BRITISH SPELLING!!"). It contains a spelling error, viewed from either side of the Atlantic ocean.

Re:This is too much (1)

GigaplexNZ (1233886) | more than 6 years ago | (#23926977)

Our freedom, our privacy, our health and our dignity is being taken from us and all we can do is complain on the Internet?
Says the one complaining on the internet... do something about it if you have a problem with inaction.

Re:This is too much (1)

confusedneutrino (732640) | more than 6 years ago | (#23928207)

Between your username and sig, I'm reminded of why I never paid my Mensa dues past the first year, way back in middle school. Seriously, get over yourself.

Re:This is too much (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 6 years ago | (#23928419)

WTF is it about the parent that warrants flamebait ?

Every day sees new ways to usurp our rights as citizens and as human beings. We are assumed guilty until proven innocent, if we even have a chance to defend ourselves. RFID tagging, while having its benefits, is far too easy to abuse, and abuse is the only constant in today's society.

If hospital staff can't be bothered to track their own equipment, how is RFID going to help ? There's is still a human somewhere that's going to screw it up out of sheer laziness.

Re:This is too much (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#23929375)

Where are the outraged people desperate to change the situation? Where are the angry mobs? What else are we going to let them take away from us before we stop talking and start acting?

Where are the trolls? Oh, right here.

RFID is immensely useful and the privacy considerations, while real, are mostly overblown.

You are either a troll or a fool. Either way, go crap up digg.

Re:This is too much (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 6 years ago | (#23931233)

I hope you are not working in an office or have a job where you need to visit any office.

Just to bring you up to speed. They give you a card, so you can swipe open doors, like server rooms. Instead of people getting a key, they are given cards, so they can track where you are ALL THE TIME.

And when you visit a company, you need to enter your name at the reception and you get a badge, so everybody can identify you are a visitor. Next to that in many offices, a person from the office needs to be with you at all times. Talk about control.

And tracking people can be done without those devices as well. I have been followed by some people when I was in Sweden. They were from some security police or whatever and I am still pissed of that they did not send me the pictures they took. They did it so unbiously obvious that I know they wanted me to know that I was being followed.

So as much as you say that RFID chips might be a technical solution to a social problem, NOT having RFID chips is also a technical solution to a social problem. Forbidding RFID is throwing the baby away with the bathwater.

There are tons of places where RFID chips would be a great idea.

Oh and almost everybody already walks around with not just an RFID chip, which is passive, but with a thing that sends out where they are all the time: the cell phone. And on a private scale, you can catch bluetooth and see where they are.

Interference in medicine (4, Insightful)

neapolitan (1100101) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925409)

Interesting -- Slashdot has talked about this kind of thing before and I remember responding:

http://science.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=234315&cid=19078365 [slashdot.org]

Every time I read something like this I get a bit frustrated. I can't paste the whole article for copyright reasons, but I am hoping a kind AC will. Either way, the gist of the article is that when very close (some have interference "distances" of 0.1 cm) RFID active readers / transmitters may interfere with some medical equipment.

The interobserver variability in the study was high, and they defined an event very broadly, essentially as any change in the operation of a device. It is a bit aggressive -- and I fear that good technology may inadvertently be stifled for "interference" concerns...

Re:Interference in medicine (2, Informative)

Gewalt (1200451) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925671)

can't paste the whole article for copyright reasons, but I am hoping a kind AC will.

Believe it or not, but you too can actually post as AC! It's amazing, I know! Just check that box you see right after the subject of your post.

Re:Interference in medicine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23925799)

It takes random kind AC's time to clean up formatting a tiny bit and remove symbols that are interpreted as http code by slashdot.

Sarcasm does not make you smart, contributing to knowledge does.

Re:Interference in medicine (1)

Gewalt (1200451) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925933)

Thanks for that. In the future I'll be sure to ask your permission before making a post. You know, just in case you are in the mood for an "informative" post when I was preparing a "funny" post. I can't believe I have been so careless as to have offended you with the wrong post type. I do hope you can eventually find it in your heart to forgive me. Not now, I understand, your heart still burns with rage. But maybe years from now you will be able to look back on my penance and see that I am worthy of forgiveness.

Re:Interference in medicine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23926245)

You are a sad, sad person.

Re:Interference in medicine (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23927313)

Get used to it. I post something insightful and it gets modded funny. I post a witty response, it gets modded offtopic. I get pissed and write a rant, it's modded insightful.

I stopped trying to understand moderators.

Full text without graphs (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23925719)

Electromagnetic Interference From Radio Frequency Identification Inducing Potentially Hazardous Incidents in Critical Care Medical Equipment
Remko van der Togt, MSc; Erik Jan van Lieshout, MD; Reinout Hensbroek, MSc; E. Beinat, PhD; J. M. Binnekade, PhD; P. J. M. Bakker, MD, PhD

JAMA. 2008;299(24):2884-2890.
ABSTRACT

Context Health care applications of autoidentification technologies, such as radio frequency identification (RFID), have been proposed to improve patient safety and also the tracking and tracing of medical equipment. However, electromagnetic interference (EMI) by RFID on medical devices has never been reported.

Objective To assess and classify incidents of EMI by RFID on critical care equipment.
Design and Setting Without a patient being connected, EMI by 2 RFID systems (active 125 kHz and passive 868 MHz) was assessed under controlled conditions during May 2006, in the proximity of 41 medical devices (in 17 categories, 22 different manufacturers) at the Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Assessment took place according to an international test protocol. Incidents of EMI were classified according to a critical care adverse events scale as hazardous, significant, or light.

Results In 123 EMI tests (3 per medical device), RFID induced 34 EMI incidents: 22 were classified as hazardous, 2 as significant, and 10 as light. The passive 868-MHz RFID signal induced a higher number of incidents (26 incidents in 41 EMI tests; 63%) compared with the active 125-kHz RFID signal (8 incidents in 41 EMI tests; 20%); difference 44% (95% confidence interval, 27%-53%; P lessthan .001). The passive 868-MHz RFID signal induced EMI in 26 medical devices, including 8 that were also affected by the active 125-kHz RFID signal (26 in 41 devices; 63%). The median distance between the RFID reader and the medical device in all EMI incidents was 30 cm (range, 0.1-600 cm).

Conclusions In a controlled nonclinical setting, RFID induced potentially hazardous incidents in medical devices. Implementation of RFID in the critical care environment should require on-site EMI tests and updates of international standards.

Applications of autoidentification technologies such as radio frequency identification (RFID) in everyday life include security access cards, electronic toll collection, and antitheft clips in retail clothing.1-2 RFID applications in health care have received increasing attention because of the potentially positive effect on patient safety and also on tracking and tracing of medical equipment and devices.2-11 The current expenditure levels on RFID systems within health care in the United States are estimated to be approximately $90 million per year12 with 10-year growth projections to $2 billion.13
Possible applications of RFID include drug blister packs, which could be intelligently marked to prevent drug counterfeiting; and the quality of blood products being monitored with temperature-sensitive RFID tags.2, 10 The decreasing size and cost of RFID tags also permits incorporation into surgical sponges, endoscopic capsules, and endotracheal tubes, as well as the development of a syringe-implantable glucose-sensing RFID microchip.3, 8-9,14

However, the array of literature that promotes RFID in health care is not accompanied by research on the safety of RFID technology within the health care environment.15 The potential for harmful electromagnetic interference (EMI) by electronic antitheft surveillance systems on implantable pacemakers and defibrillators has already been recognized, but EMI reports on critical care devices are lacking.16-17
The focus of the present study was to assess and classify incidents of EMI by RFID on critical care equipment.

Background
The study was part of a research project entitled "RFID in Health Care" that was initiated by the Dutch Ministry of Health18 in May 2006. The RFID application of interest was the tracking and tracing of blood products and expensive medical supplies (eg, blood vessel prostheses, surgical staplers) in the operation rooms, the intensive care unit (ICU), and the blood transfusion laboratory of the Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands (1002-bed university hospital, 25 operation rooms, 32 intensive care beds).
The selection of 2 RFID systems tested in this study was based on 3 characteristics: (1) the systems needed to comply with RFID standards set by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute19; (2) radio frequencies needed to fall within the most common internationally used RFID frequency bands12, 20-21; and (3) performance needed to fulfill the operational requirements of the project including availability of temperature-sensitive RFID tags, low-cost tags suitable for disposable materials, contemporary integration with the local communications network, and location accuracy within a health care facility.

Medical Equipment
A total of 41 medical devices (17 categories, 22 different manufacturers) were analyzed according to the American standard C63.18 of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers during full operation without a patient connected; a simulator (ie, electrocardiogram simulator, artificial lung, syringe filled with saline) was connected if relevant.22 The tests were performed on all electronic medical devices for use in critical care that could be affected by EMI during the RFID research project.

RFID Systems
RFID technology is based on 2 components: tags and readers.2, 13, 20
The tags are manufactured as either passive or active and use radio waves to communicate their identity and possible other information to nearby readers. Passive RFID tags do not have internal power, are activated by the electromagnetic field generated by the reader, and transmit information back to the reader (Figure 1). The electromagnetic field can cover a distance ranging from 1 to 50 cm to 10 to 30 m. Active RFID tags are operated by batteries and can broadcast information, such as identity or product temperature, without being activated by the reader.7, 20 An active tag can broadcast over a distance of 50 to 100 m.

      Figure 1. Passive and Active Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Tags and Test Methods
A, Active RFID tags contain batteries and are able to collect, store, and broadcast information without activation by an RFID reader. To save power, some active RFID tags are in sleep mode and can be awakened by a reader to start broadcasting. B, EMI indicates electromagnetic interference. The same test method was used for both passive and active tags.

The passive RFID system selected for this study (OBID, Feig Electronic, Weilburg, Germany) had an 868-MHz reader (2-4 W). The active RFID system (Eureka RFID, Avonwood, England) had a 125-kHz reader (68 x 10E-3 T at 1 m) that forces tags to transmit in its proximity. The active RFID tag had an operational frequency of 868 MHz at 2 W. This tag was selected for its low use of power, longer transmission range compared with tags operating at lower frequencies,21 applicability in disposable materials, and existing use in retail and drug supply chains.23
Test Method

The test method was based on the American National Standards Institute recommendation (ANSI C63.18),22 which describes the systematic and reproducible test method for electromagnetic immunity of medical devices by radio frequency transmitters like RFID. In addition to this standard, the maximum distance at which an RFID-induced EMI incident occurred in a critical care medical device was determined. All tests were executed in a 1-bed patient room, without reflecting obstacles nearby, in the ICU of the Academic Medical Centre. These ICU rooms comply with the International Electrotechnical Commission standards on electrical safety in hospitals (IEC 60364-7-710).
The EMI test included 3 procedures. First, each medical device was checked for normal operation with a simulator connected if necessary (Figure 2). Second, the RFID equipment was turned on and moved in a circle around the medical device in 3 spatial planes (sagittal, frontal, and transverse).22, 24-26 Third, the test distance was changed stepwise. The initial distance was 200 cm from the medical device according to the American National Standard Institute recommendation.22 The minimum distance was reached by holding the RFID equipment against the housing of the medical device, defined as 0.1 cm.

      Figure 2. Algorithm of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Test Methods
EMI indicates electromagnetic interference. Each medical device was tested with the passive 868-MHz RFID system (tag and reader), the active 125-kHz RFID system (tag and reader), and the active RFID tag from the active 125-kHz system alone.
aIf EMI incident appeared or disappeared during a stepwise increment or decrement of 50 cm, the precise distance of EMI was determined by moving the RFID equipment at a rate of approximately 1 cm per 3 seconds in 3 spatial planes.

If EMI occurred at the initial distance of 200 cm, the distance was increased stepwise by 50 cm by moving the RFID equipment away from the medical device. The first and second procedures were then repeated. If EMI did not occur at the initial distance of 200 cm the distance was decreased stepwise by 50 cm.
If EMI appeared or disappeared during a stepwise increment or decrement of 50 cm, the precise distance of EMI was determined by moving the RFID equipment at a rate of approximately 1 cm per 3 seconds.22, 24-26 EMI incidents were recorded in detail by 2 examiners and the test was repeated twice to assess reproducibility.
Each medical device was submitted to 3 EMI tests in a random order, one with the passive 868-MHz RFID system, one with the active 125-kHz RFID system, and both with the medical device tags attached to the reader. The third EMI test included the active RFID tag of the 125-kHz system tested separately without its reader.
Classification of Incidents
The term incident in this study was defined as "every unintended change in function of a medical device" while the US Food and Drug Administration's definition of EMI was used: "degradation of the performance of a piece of equipment, transmission channel, or system (such as medical devices) caused by an electromagnetic disturbance."27-29
Five intensivists, all European board-certified and each with more than 2 years of full-time critical care experience, classified all incidents independently while blinded for the manufacturer of the medical device and the type (active or passive) or part (reader with tag or tag) of the RFID system. The classification was done independently of the incident assessment and according to a critical care adverse event scale.25, 28
The scale ranges were hazardous incident (direct physical influence on a patient by unintended change in equipment function, eg, total stop of syringe pump or incorrect pacing by an external pacemaker); significant incident (influence on monitoring with significant level of attention needed causing substantial distraction from patient care, eg, incorrect alarm or inaccurate monitoring of blood pressure); and light incident (influence on monitoring without significant level of attention needed, eg, disturbed display).
Statistical Analysis
When EMI was detected, distance between the reader/tag and the device was measured in centimeters. Median, maximum, and minimum values were registered if normal distribution was not applicable. The distance between the reader and device was set at 0.1 cm if an incident occurred when the reader was held against the housing of the device.
The tests of both passive 868-MHz and active 125-kHz RFID signals on the same medical devices were considered to be repeated measures. Therefore the numbers of EMI incidents by either RFID system were compared using the McNemar test as a nonparametric test comparing 2 related dichotomous variables. The difference in distance between the RFID signal and device at which incidents occurred were analyzed using the Friedman test as a nonparametric test for 2 or more related groups with continuous data. The interobserver reliability of the incident scale score was analyzed using the weighted between the 5 independent observers. Statistical uncertainty was expressed in 95% confidence intervals (CIs) if applicable. All P values were based on 2-sided tests with .05 considered to be significant. All analyses were completed using SPSS version 14.0.2 (SPSS Inc, Chicago, Illinois).

All 41 medical devices were submitted to 3 EMI tests (passive 868-MHz, active 125-kHz, and active tag of the 125-kHz RFID system, respectively) resulting in 123 EMI tests. A total of 34 EMI incidents were found and all were reproducible; 22 were classified as hazardous, 2 as significant, and 10 as light (Table 1). The passive 868-MHz RFID signal induced a higher number of incidents (26 in 41 EMI tests; 63%), compared with the 125-kHz RFID signal (8 in 41 EMI tests; 20%), difference was 44% (95% CI, 27%-53%; P lessthan .001). The same holds for the 22 hazardous EMI incidents: the passive 868-MHz RFID signal (17 in 41 device tests; 41%) vs the active 125-kHz RFID signal (5 in 41 device tests; 12%), difference was 27% (95% CI, 12%-41%; P = .007).

      Table 1. Medical Devices by Category, Interference Distances, and Incidents by Typea

The passive 868-MHz RFID signal induced EMI in 26 of the 41 medical devices tested including 8 devices that were also affected by the active 125-kHz RFID signal (26 in 41; 63%). The medical device details and all incident descriptions are available online at the Academic Medical Centre Web site (http://www.amc.nl/?pid=5266).
Hazardous incidents occurred in treatment devices due to definition. In 2 out of 4 mechanical ventilators tested, 2 hazardous incidents occurred: a total switch-off and restart at 5 cm; and changes in set ventilation rate at 400 cm. In 6 out of 9 syringe pumps tested, 6 hazardous incidents occurred (median distance 30 cm; range 5-100 cm) and resulted in a complete stoppage of the equipment. In all 3 external pacemakers tested, 5 hazardous incidents demonstrated incorrect inhibition of the pacemakers (median distance 25 cm; range 5-30 cm). In each of 2 renal replacement devices tested, hazardous incidents showed complete stoppage after acoustic alarms (distances 10 and 20 cm).
One hazardous incident at 25 cm occurred during 41 device tests with the active RFID tag of the 125-kHz RFID system. It caused interference in the atrial and ventricular electrogram curve read by the pacemaker programmer which could potentially induce inappropriate inhibition. All other tests with this active tag did not show any incidents of EMI on the 41 medical devices.
The relation between distance and cumulative number of hazardous, significant, and light incidents is depicted in Figure 3. The median distance between reader and device at which all types of incidents occurred was 30 cm (range, 0.1-600 cm). Hazardous incidents occurred at a median distance of 25 cm (range, 5-400 cm; Table 2). Incidents occurred at greater distances with the 868-MHz RFID signal compared with the 125-kHz RFID signal (P = .06).

      Figure 3. Electromagnetic Incidents by Type and Distance
RFID indicates radio frequency identification. Tests of the relation between the RFID reader and the medical device showed 3 incidents at a distance of 600 cm. The cumulative number of incidents increased by moving the RFID system closer to the medical device. The cumulate number of incidents (n=34) was highest when the RFID system was held against the medical device at 0.01 cm.

      Table 2. Types of Electromagnetic Interference Incidents and Distances by Radio Frequency Identification Signal

The interobserver reliability of the incident scale score was substantial ( = 0.85; 95% CI, 0.77-0.91).

The median distance at which all RFID incidents occurred was 30 cm with a considerable range up to 600 cm. RFID with a passive 868-MHz system seemed to cause more EMI compared with an active 125-kHz RFID system.
The absence of studies on the safety of RFID may be explained by the relative novelty of this autoidentification technology in health care, although many hospitals have already implemented RFID.12-13 The EMI incidents induced by RFID on critical care equipment could be assessed in comparison with those induced by mobile phones. There is considerable variation in reported EMI by mobile phones depending on the medical devices selected and the type of telecommunication signals with different levels of output power.24-25,30-31 Recently it was shown that even the second- and third-generation mobile phones are capable of inducing clinically significant EMI.25 The reported hazardous incidents like switching off a mechanical ventilator or syringe pump are similar to EMI incidents by RFID found in this study. The 30-cm median distance for all incidents found with RFID might be more critical compared with the median range of 3 cm with modern mobile phones.
The same limitation of studies on EMI by mobile phones, generalization of demonstrated EMI incidents, applies to the present study on RFID. Our results apply only on the technology of 1 active and 1 passive RFID system from 2 specified manufacturers. The 2 systems were meticulously selected to study the application of RFID in the tracking and tracing of blood products and expensive medical supplies in an ICU and operating room with RFID technology. The 2 systems are comparable with those used in many other RFID case studies and could be considered as a representative sample of RFID equipment used for applications in health care.2, 12, 20-21,23, 32 However, testing 1 RFID system on EMI in a medical device does not implicate immunity or vulnerability to other RFID systems if based on different signal characteristics or deployments. Medical technology assessment of EMI should be considered as qualitative rather than quantitative research by its inability to test all past and future equipment, both in radio signals emitting as well as medical devices.33
Another limitation of this study is the use of maximal output power of both RFID systems, which was set to mimic a worst-case but at the same time realistic scenario. The number of EMI incidents increased with higher output power of transmitting RFID systems; similar to mobile phone technology.34 In health care facilities, coverage of RFID signals might be poor due to the attenuation effects of building structures. This might necessitate maximum power settings for adequate performance.30 Furthermore, this could be used to increase a signal's coverage area to simplify installation. This study illustrates the risks of such practices. RFID in health care, therefore, requires additional precautions compared with noncritical environments such as retail.
The lack of standardization of RFID in health care permits RFID systems originally designed for logistics to enter the medical arena on the basis of requirements such as the range at which medical tagged items or individuals are to be detected.12, 20-21 However, the economic benefits of optimal health care logistics, including a supply chain of RFID-tagged disposables or pharmaceuticals, could face barriers in the critical care environment. The intensity of electronic life-supporting medical devices in this area requires careful management of the introduction of new wireless communications such as RFID.13, 33
In conclusion, in a controlled nonclinical trial setting, RFID technology is capable of inducing potentially hazardous incidents in medical devices. Implementation of RFID in the ICU and other similar health care environments should require on-site EMI tests in addition to updated international standards.

Corresponding Author: Erik Jan van Lieshout, MD, Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam, Meibergdreef 9, 1100 AZ Amsterdam, the Netherlands (e.j.vanlieshout@amc.nl).
Author Contributions: Mr van der Togt and Dr van Lieshout had full access to all of the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. Both contributed equally to the study and are co-first authors.
Study concept and design: van der Togt, van Lieshout, Hensbroek, Beinat, Bakker.
Acquisition of data: van der Togt, van Lieshout, Hensbroek.
Analysis and interpretation of data: van der Togt, van Lieshout, Hensbroek, Binnekade.
Drafting of the manuscript: van der Togt, van Lieshout, Hensbroek, Beinat, Binnekade, Bakker.
Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: van der Togt, van Lieshout, Hensbroek.
Statistical analysis: van der Togt, van Lieshout, Hensbroek, Beinat, Binnekade.
Obtained funding: Hensbroek, Beinat, Binnekade.
Administrative, technical, or material support: van Lieshout, Hensbroek, Beinat, Binnekade.
Study supervision: van der Togt, van Lieshout, Hensbroek, Beinat, Binnekade, Bakker.
Financial Disclosures: None reported.
Funding/Support: This research was funded by the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Sport; the Ministry of Economic Affairs; the Academic Medical Centre; Capgemini; Geodan; Oracle; and Intel.
Role of the Sponsor: The Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Sport; the Ministry of Economic Affairs; the Academic Medical Centre; Capgemini; Geodan; Oracle; and Intel had no role in the design and conduct of the study; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of the data; or in the preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript.
Additional Contributions: We thank the Department of Medical Engineering, Dave Dongelmans, MD, Nicole Juffermans, MD, PhD, Robert Tepaske, MD, PhD, Janneke Horn, MD, PhD, Bas Hermans, and Henk Greuter, Academic Medical Centre, Amsterdam, for their expertise and logistical and technical assistance. None of these individuals received additional compensation for their contributions to this article.
Author Affiliations: Spatial Information Laboratory, Institute of Environmental Studies, VU University, Amsterdam, the Netherlands (Mr van der Togt and Dr Beinat); Department of Intensive Care and Mobile Intensive Care Unit (Drs van Lieshout and Binnekade), Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Bioinformatics (Dr Binnekade), and Department of Quality Assurance and Innovation (Dr Bakker), Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam; TNO Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research, Leiden, the Netherlands (Mr Hensbroek); and Faculty of Sciences, University of Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria (Dr Beinat).

REFERENCES
      Jump to Section
  * Top
  * Introduction
  * Methods
  * Results
  * Comment
  * Author information
  * References

1. Dempsey M. Weaving through the hopes and hype surrounding RFID. Biomed Instrum Technol. 2005;(suppl):19-22. PUBMED
2. Dzik S. Radio frequency identification for prevention of bedside errors. Transfusion. 2007;47(2 suppl):125S-129S. FULL TEXT | ISI | PUBMED
3. Delvaux M, Ben SE, Laurent V, Lerebours E, Gay G. Clinical evaluation of the use of the M2A patency capsule system before a capsule endoscopy procedure, in patients with known or suspected intestinal stenosis. Endoscopy. 2005;37(9):801-807. FULL TEXT | ISI | PUBMED
4. Egan MT, Sandberg WS. Auto identification technology and its impact on patient safety in the operating room of the future. Surg Innov. 2007;14(1):41-50. FREE FULL TEXT
5. Macario A, Morris D, Morris S. Initial clinical evaluation of a handheld device for detecting retained surgical gauze sponges using radiofrequency identification technology. Arch Surg. 2006;141(7):659-662. FREE FULL TEXT
6. Marjamaa RA, Torkki PM, Torkki MI, Kirvela OA. Time accuracy of a radio frequency identification patient tracking system for recording operating room timestamps. Anesth Analg. 2006;102(4):1183-1186. FREE FULL TEXT
7. Nagy P, George I, Bernstein W; et al. Radio frequency identification systems technology in the surgical setting. Surg Innov. 2006;13(1):61-67. FREE FULL TEXT
8. Reicher J, Reicher D, Reicher M. Use of radio frequency identification (RFID) tags in bedside monitoring of endotracheal tube position. J Clin Monit Comput. 2007;21(3):155-158. FULL TEXT | PUBMED
9. Rogers A, Jones E, Oleynikov D. Radio frequency identification (RFID) applied to surgical sponges. Surg Endosc. 2007;21(7):1235-1237. FULL TEXT | ISI | PUBMED
10. Young D. RFID implementation not moving fast enough, FDA says. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2006;63(6):500-502. FREE FULL TEXT
11. Wicks AM, Visich JK, Li S. Radio frequency identification applications in hospital environments. Hosp Top. 2006;84(3):3-8. PUBMED
12. Harrop P, Das R. RFID for healthcare and pharmaceuticals 2008-2018. IDTechEx Web site. http://www.idtechex.com/products/en/view.asp?productcategoryid=101 [idtechex.com] . Accessed April 20, 2008.
13. Ashar BS, Ferriter A. Radiofrequency identification technology in health care: benefits and potential risks. JAMA. 2007;298(19):2305-2307. FREE FULL TEXT
14. Tomek A. Implantable RFID glucose-sensing microchip for humans, 2007. VeriChip Web site. http://www.verichipcorp.com/news/1195161153 [verichipcorp.com] . Accessed April 20, 2008.
15. Saito Y, Hasegawa T, Sakamaki T. Efficiency and safety of new radiofrequency identification system in Japanese hospital. In: Kuhn KA, Warren JR, Leong TY, eds. Studies in Health Technology and Informatics: MEDINFO 2007 Proceedings of the 12th World Congress on Health (Medical) Informatics, Building Sustainable Health Systems. Washington, DC: IOS Press; 2007:1478.
16. Irnich W. Electronic security systems and active implantable medical devices. Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. 2002;25(8):1235-1258. FULL TEXT | PUBMED
17. Santucci PA, Haw J, Trohman RG, Pinski SL. Interference with an implantable defibrillator by an electronic antitheft-surveillance device. N Engl J Med. 1998;339(19):1371-1374. FREE FULL TEXT
18. RFID in Healthcare. Outcomes and points for consideration. http://www.rfidzorg.nl/index_en.html [rfidzorg.nl] . Accessed June 2, 2008.
19. European Telecommunications Standards Institute. ETSI world class standards, 2008. http://www.etsi.org/WebSite/Standards/StandardsDownload.aspx [etsi.org] . Accessed April 20, 2008.
20. Kabachinski J. An introduction to RFID. Biomed Instrum Technol. 2005;39(2):131-134. PUBMED
21. IDTechEx. RFID frequency bands: definitions of RFID frequencies, 2006. http://www.idtechex.com/knowledgebase/en/article.asp?articleid=40 [idtechex.com] . Accessed April 20, 2008.
22. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. American National Standard Recommended Practice for On-site Ad Hoc Test Method for Estimating Radiated Electromagnetic Immunity of Medical Devices to Specific Radio-frequency Transmitters (Standard C63.18). Piscataway, NJ: IEEE; 1997.
23. Das R. Item level RFID vol 2-100 case studies, paybacks, lessons (research report# IDT6752), 2006. Electronics.ca Publications Web site. http://www.electronics.ca/reports/rfid/rfid_2.html [electronics.ca] . Accessed April 20, 2008.
24. Wallin MK, Marve T, Hakansson PK. Modern wireless telecommunication technologies and their electromagnetic compatibility with life-supporting equipment. Anesth Analg. 2005;101(5):1393-1400. FREE FULL TEXT
25. van Lieshout EJ, van der Veer SN, Hensbroek R, Korevaar JC, Vroom MB, Schultz MJ. Interference by new-generation mobile phones on critical care medical equipment. Crit Care. 2007;11(5):R98. FULL TEXT | PUBMED
26. Tri JL, Hayes DL, Smith TT, Severson RP. Cellular phone interference with external cardiopulmonary monitoring devices. Mayo Clin Proc. 2001;76(1):11-15. ISI | PUBMED
27. Chang A, Schyve PM, Croteau RJ, O'Leary DS, Loeb JM. The JCAHO patient safety event taxonomy: a standardized terminology and classification schema for near misses and adverse events. Int J Qual Health Care. 2005; 17(2):95-105. FREE FULL TEXT
28. Kivlahan C, Sangster W, Nelson K, Buddenbaum J, Lobenstein K. Developing a comprehensive electronic adverse event reporting system in an academic health center. Jt Comm J Qual Improv. 2002;28(11):583-594. PUBMED
29. US Food and Drug Administration. Draft guidance for industry and FDA Staff-radio-frequency wireless technology in medical devices: issued January 3, 2007. Center for Devices and Radiological Health Web site. http://www.fda.gov/cdrh/osel/guidance/1618.html [fda.gov] . Accessed April 20, 2008.
30. Irnich W, Batz L, Muller R, Tobisch R. Electromagnetic interference of pacemakers by mobile phones. Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. 1996;19(10):1431-1446. FULL TEXT | PUBMED
31. Lawrentschuk N, Bolton DM. Mobile phone interference with medical equipment and its clinical relevance: a systematic review. Med J Aust. 2004;181(3):145-149. ISI | PUBMED
32. IDTechEx. RFID in healthcare: the RFID Knowledgebase. http://rfid.idtechex.com/knowledgebase/en/sectionintro.asp?sectionid=115 [idtechex.com] . Accessed April 20, 2008.
33. Gladman AS, Lapinsky SE. Wireless technology in the ICU: boon or ban? Crit Care. 2007;11(5):165. FULL TEXT | PUBMED
34. Tan KS, Hinberg I. Effects of a wireless local area network (LAN) system, a telemetry system, and electrosurgical devices on medical devices in a hospital environment. Biomed Instrum Technol. 2000;34(2):115-118. PUBMED

Caring for the Critically Ill Patient Section Editor: Derek C. Angus, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor, JAMA (angusdc@upmc.edu).

Re:Interference in medicine (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925755)

the gist of the article is that when very close (some have interference "distances" of 0.1 cm) RFID active readers / transmitters may interfere with some medical equipment.

And the paranoids are after us all. TFA doesn't paint this as A Big Deal. It's just another thing to watch for. That's why hospitals typically don't allow cell phones in patient critical areas (and then wildly overestimate the danger potential and try to ban them everywhere which of course doesn't work). The ONLY time the problems arose was when the tags were being scanned.

This isn't going to happen all of the time, and in an ICU room, it's likely not to happen at all. Besides, even a ventilator can have a brief hiccup without killing somebody - I'd worry if it reset it's controls to some different settings, but the new ones are pretty carefully designed to handle all manner of human abuse without doing something awful.

A hospital may need to develop a policy on RFID scanning - just like we develop policies On Everything.

TFA does point out yet another issue we need to study. Just put in on the pile over there. We'll get to it.

Re:Interference in medicine (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925843)

And the paranoids are after us all. TFA doesn't paint this as A Big Deal. It's just another thing to watch for. That's why hospitals typically don't allow cell phones in patient critical areas (and then wildly overestimate the danger potential and try to ban them everywhere which of course doesn't work).

In the UK at least the reason for the blanket ban is so they can push their expensive 'Patientline' phones. It's rigidly enforced.. they'll physically throw you out if they see a mobile phone near a ward... critical area or not.

Re:Interference in medicine (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925969)

In the UK at least the reason for the blanket ban is so they can push their expensive 'Patientline' phones. It's rigidly enforced.. they'll physically throw you out if they see a mobile phone near a ward... critical area or not.

Uh oh, I see an upcoming "payphone gap" - we'd better get right on this. I'll just go tell our CEO about this....

Actually, with the current day bed charges in the US we should be giving the patient a phone, an iPod and a laptop every time they spend the night.

Re:Interference in medicine (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23927353)

Well, I could see how some hospitals were already pondering adding RFID chips to their hospital gowns, for doctors and patients alike. It could make laundry a heck lot easier and more automated, you see. Or how about RFID tagged patient reports?

So I can see how RFIDs interfering with medical equipment is a threat, even though the chips are only active while being read.

More Slashdot pseudo-science (2, Interesting)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925759)

Thanks for adding some sensible information to the discussion. Slashdot editors seem not to be able to know the difference between science and foolish imaginings.

Here is a quote, a comment [wsj.com] to the Wall Street Journal story:

"interference changed breathing machines' ventilation rates and caused syringe pumps to stop."
These things are FCC regulated. Should I feel safe knowing that not only are some of the systems in a hospital sensitive to EMF below FCC limits, but also that several life-critical devices FAIL under such radiation levels? For example, WHY should a syringe pump be designed so fragile that some radio waves can cause it to utterly stop?
Comment by RH - June 24, 2008 at 5:00 pm


Exactly. That's what I would have said. Here's another comment [wsj.com] (my emphasis):

The usual ignorant hysteria. First of all, the test was of the reader, not the tags. "The median distance between the RFID reader and the medical device in all EMI incidents was 30 cm (range, 0.1-600 cm)." Second, and not available in the abstract is the AE classification. OBTW, Berwick is a shill for the trial lawyers, not a serious person.
Comment by jon - June 24, 2008 at 6:06 pm

Re:Interference in medicine (3, Informative)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925851)

The interobserver variability in the study was high, and they defined an event very broadly

It was the same with mobile phones - in almost all circumstances they made absolutely no difference, since practically all devices are properly shielded. But we kept the "Switch off your fuckin phone" signs up because it was just plain annoying when patients (especially teenage females) are forever texting and chatting when you're trying to explain a procedure to them.

OTOH I think RFID tags and many other technological 'enhancements' are thrust upon the medical industry by IT reps and accepted by hospital committees without answering the fundamental questions: Does it save money, will it help patients, will it make our jobs easier?

Most of the time the devices don't do any of the three.

Re:Interference in medicine (1)

fast turtle (1118037) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925865)

The interobserver variability in the study was high, and they defined an event very broadly, essentially as any change in the operation of a device. It is a bit aggressive -- and I fear that good technology may inadvertently be stifled for "interference" concerns...
When dealing with life support and such medical devices. Death from a malfunction is a possibility and the liability issue is upon the Manufacturer. That's why most manufacturers do not sell such equipment but lease it to the hospital with a maintenance program. It's to protect themselves from a liability issue and should a hospital deploy an RFID system without input from the vendors, someone will be at an increased risk of death.

Pros and cons (2, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925869)

First off, lets be pedantic. RFID tags are passive (well slightly active while transponding) and don't cause problems just sitting there. It is the readers that cause the problems.

The field drops off at a square of distance, so a RFID reader at 10cm will have one hundredth the EM field of a reader at 1cm.

A huge % of medical deaths are due to human error (wrong drugs/dosage etc)and the correct use of RFID can go a long way to mitigate that. Clearly that would be offset if the RFID equipment was to interfere with equipment.

Medical devices should be designed to be highly robust to EM interference, but the flip side to that is that often the sensors need to be very sensitive to detect slight electrical signals in the body (pulse, brain activity etc). Still, it should be possible to design equipment that is not degraded by RFID readers.

Re:Pros and cons (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23926233)

An RFID tags ar a low power Micro watt power level transmitter. in facts its a transponder

EMC Electromagnetic incompatibly is a function of the tag and the medical device in its RF field while in operation.
The RFID tags reader is much more powerful, it needs to transmit enough RF to power the tage transponder . Medical devices are robust and designed to have immunity to Commonly used radio frequencies, but low Power devices like these tags pose a potential danger as many med devices d are not tested for operation in the presence of tiny RF power level and Rf fields generated by these tags and readers,
It is incorrect to assume that low transmitter power such as an RFID tag means no danger because that ignores the proximity of the tags transmitter to some medical sensors which may be only millimeters of distance away , making the situation the same as a receiver next to a transmitter 10 feet from a megawatt RF power source (transmitter )

What we need to do is d more testing of these medical devices EMC ( electromagnetic compatibly on the specific frequencies commonly used by BOTH the tags and the tags reader which is also a transmitter .

Re:Pros and cons (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23927379)

That RFIDs would change the mortality in insignificant ways is a given. But we're not talking about a new drug that cures thousands and kills a handful. It's not some operation where a minor mistake kills the patient while it can save his life if it runs ok. In either case I'd be right with you, saying to hell with the risk, it's worth it!

But unless you can save at least a single life with RFID that would be lost without, I'd prefer to avoid the risk. The only gains I can see for RFID is to lower workload, streamline processes and thus be able to lay off a few more nurses and other workers to increase profit.

And here, I don't say that's worth the risk. Even if it's one life a year.

Re:Pros and cons (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#23927727)

Medical errors are a huge killer. In USA they are responsible for 40k+ deaths per year. If RFID can save 10% of those then you get a saving of 4k+ lives per year.

Interference related deaths need to be pretty bad to offset that.

Re:Pros and cons (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23929195)

Please elaborate how RFID can reduce medical error related death.

If you think that with an RFID tag it should be impossible that someone gets the wrong meds, the wrong treatment or the wrong operation, this SHOULD already be impossible, due to nurses and doctors being able to read patient sheets. Errors like handing out the wrong meds to the wrong people are usually due to being heavily overworked, something an RFID tag won't change.

Re:Pros and cons (1)

KGIII (973947) | more than 6 years ago | (#23930367)

Are you saying that a nurse not having to go from room to room to find a piece of equipment used during the prior shift in either a rush situation or during the course of their shift is safer or less work than them being able to find out the last place the equipment was and find it more easily? I dun get it?

Re:Interference in medicine (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925967)

Unfortunately people want to go into panic mode when they here these thing. Now we know it is a problem we can normally work around it, and still maintain the advantages. Often with minor reengineering we can fix these problems. However society will go "TECHNOLOGY BAD DONT USE IT, IT IS MY LIFE ON THE LINE!" Not realizing that other things are out there that can create the same problems.

Re:Interference in medicine (3, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 6 years ago | (#23926101)

I can corroborate your basic point, and the sad part is that my data is 10 years old. Back then wireless ethernet (2Mbps pre-b stuff, even) was new and we were testing for interference. The very same kinds of machines had trouble as in TFS, and it was at sub-foot ranges.

I suspect either this study tested old gear (I'm assuming our hospital used a popular vendor) or the same vendors are playing lazy. Back then, the biomedical engineering guys explained to me that the FCC granted exceptions to medical device manufacturers for emitted interference, and that an emitter is a receiver, but that most good medical products companies didn't need to bother with these exceptions, they did a fine job on principle.

Re:Interference in medicine (1)

Dolohov (114209) | more than 6 years ago | (#23926661)

It's useful to know in case someone thinks it's a good idea to tag pacemakers with RFID tags, or thinks it's a bright idea to build an active reader powerful enough to trigger every tag in a hallway, but you're right: this is being blown way out of proportion.

Good (-1, Flamebait)

angryfirelord (1082111) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925473)

That's a sound argument to NOT put everyone's personal information in their body. (I'm talking to you Obama, McCain and other New World Order zealots) I don't want something that's mandated that ends up creating a mess, especially if it interferes with medical equipment.

Let's just hope... (2, Funny)

katterjohn (726348) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925511)

..that people with these devices don't receive any mail via snail.

Electromagnetic Compatability Study Needed (1)

loose electron (699583) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925513)

Electromagnetic compatability is a huge undertaking in the hardware world.

As an example, IEEE EMC society:
http://www.ewh.ieee.org/soc/emcs/ [ieee.org]

I would be very curious to know if any EMC work was done between all of theses devices? Nothing indicated of substance in the article.

my 20 cents (adjusted for inflation and to account for the energy costs per post) :)
jerry

Re:Electromagnetic Compatability Study Needed (2, Informative)

EMCEngineer (1155139) | more than 6 years ago | (#23927377)

If the devices carry a CE mark(which would be required to sell in the EU), they had EMC testing done on them.

The basic EMC standard for medical devices is EN 60601-1-2. For radiated interference, it requires testing from 80 to 2500 MHz - 3 V/m for non-lifesupporting equipment and 10 V/m for lifesupporting equipment. This is a 1 kHz AM modulated signal.

There are further requirements for implantable devices and some other life supporting equipment. EN 45502 has magnetic field requirements, and AAMI PC69 covers cell phone frequencies with a pulsed test.

There is at present no requirement to test at the specific frequencies that may be used for RFID and the like, and no requirement to use a modulation similar to what they employ.

Hazardous (5, Insightful)

electricbern (1222632) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925531)

I dub thee harzardous technology of the week. You can now join the cellphone, TV, radio, power grid, Internet, and so on in the list of hazardous technology. Welcome on board.

Re:Hazardous (1)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 6 years ago | (#23926191)

RFID toe tags, however, are the neatest thing since sliced bread.

Need in health care for asset tracking (3, Interesting)

steeljaw (65872) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925533)

Interestingly enough, I've been approached 3 times now by people in the health care industry who have expressed a need for some time of asset tracking software and I've always given them my brother's card (his company specializes in RFID based asset tracking). Actually, one person specifically asked me if I was capable of integrating an RFID solution into their environment. I wonder how many companies are currently developing RFID based software geared towards the health care industry only to receive a backlash from the medical community when this type of information becomes common knowledge..

Re:Need in health care for asset tracking (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23925627)

Hi All
I work as a Biomed Technologist, so this is in my direct field of work.

Really, RFID tags will not be a problem in hospitals unless multiple failures are already present. Of more concern is hand held radio's security sometimes use (we've had a vent restart from those). ALL medical devices have EM shielding, and it's usually in things like lead wires (for an ECG for example) that will have cracked shielding that might be a problem. Most wireless technology now is either in the MHZ range (1 HZ might be a problem... >100kHZ is really a non-problem for interference), and they often use frequency spreading so no one frequency has that many watts of EM.

It's really the people are are always concern with liability that will take notice of this. From a practical point of view it's not a problem at all.

Re:Need in health care for asset tracking (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925877)

What about the backlash to the makers of the affected medical equipment? That's where any blame should lie.

Any piece of life saving equipment that can be screwed up by a low power radio transmission is not fit for purpose. These things are supposed to be built to high standards and have near zero failure rates.

Re:Need in health care for asset tracking (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#23929409)

I seem to recall a news item about some heart monitors being set off by a digital television test, I seem to recall it being in Texas? Turns out they weren't required to be FCC licensed (this is the story as I remember it, I could be way off base) and they wound up on the same frequency as terrestrial digital television, which won.

I feel the same way about medical equipment as I do about an airplane. If a cellular phone or an RFID scanner can cause it to malfunction, it's not safe enough to actually use. I place pacemakers which cannot be used near a microwave oven in the same category. Isn't there some kind of technology dividend from the space program which can solve that problem?

Re:Need in health care for asset tracking (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 6 years ago | (#23931353)

Like many of the people who use wireless microphones, they were using "unused" TV channels to relay information. That works fine until someone is allocated that channel.

The local police and fire departments operate their radios on an unused UHF TV channel. The difference is that the FCC gave them permission to use those frequencies.

corepirate nazis interfering with life process (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23925581)

the lights are coming up all over now. conspiracy theorists are being vindicated. some might choose a tin umbrella to go with their hats. the fairytail is winding down now. let your conscience be yOUR guide. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. there are still some choices. if they do not suit you, consider the likely results of continuing to follow the corepirate nazi hypenosys story LIEn, whereas anything of relevance is replaced almost instantly with pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking propaganda or 'celebrity' trivia 'foam'. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on yOUR brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.

http://news.google.com/?ncl=1216734813&hl=en&topic=n
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/31/opinion/31mon1.html?em&ex=1199336400&en=c4b5414371631707&ei=5087%0A
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/29/world/29amnesty.html?hp
http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/06/02/nasa.global.warming.ap/index.html
http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/weather/06/05/severe.weather.ap/index.html
http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/weather/06/02/honore.preparedness/index.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/01/opinion/01dowd.html?em&ex=1212638400&en=744b7cebc86723e5&ei=5087%0A
http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/06/05/senate.iraq/index.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/17/washington/17contractor.html?hp

is it time to get real yet? A LOT of energy is being squandered in attempts to keep US in the dark. in the end (give or take a few 1000 years), the creators will prevail (world without end, etc...), as it has always been. the process of gaining yOUR release from the current hostage situation may not be what you might think it is. butt of course, most of US don't know, or care what a precarious/fatal situation we're in. for example; the insidious attempts by the felonious corepirate nazi execrable to block the suns' light, interfering with a requirement (sunlight) for us to stay healthy/alive. it's likely not good for yOUR health/memories 'else they'd be bragging about it? we're intending for the whoreabully deceptive (they'll do ANYTHING for a bit more monIE/power) felons to give up/fail even further, in attempting to control the 'weather', as well as a # of other things/events.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=weather+manipulation&btnG=Search
http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=video+cloud+spraying

dictator style micro management has never worked (for very long). it's an illness. tie that with life0cidal aggression & softwar gangster style bullying, & what do we have? a greed/fear/ego based recipe for disaster. meanwhile, you can help to stop the bleeding (loss of life & limb);

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/28/vermont.banning.bush.ap/index.html

the bleeding must be stopped before any healing can begin. jailing a couple of corepirate nazi hired goons would send a clear message to the rest of the world from US. any truthful look at the 'scorecard' would reveal that we are a society in decline/deep doo-doo, despite all of the scriptdead pr ?firm? generated drum beating & flag waving propaganda that we are constantly bombarded with. is it time to get real yet? please consider carefully ALL of yOUR other 'options'. the creators will prevail. as it has always been.

corepirate nazi execrable costs outweigh benefits
(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

as there are no benefits, just more&more death/debt & disruption. fortunately there's an 'army' of light bringers, coming yOUR way. the little ones/innocents must/will be protected. after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit? for each of the creators' innocents harmed in any way, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available. 'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet, & by your behaviors. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable. some of US should consider ourselves somewhat fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate. it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc.... as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis. concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order. 'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

meanwhile, the life0cidal philistines continue on their path of death, debt, & disruption for most of US. gov. bush denies health care for the little ones;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/03/bush.veto/index.html

whilst demanding/extorting billions to paint more targets on the bigger kids;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/12/bush.war.funding/index.html

& pretending that it isn't happening here;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3086937.ece
all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven

(yOUR elected) president al gore (deciding not to wait for the much anticipated 'lonesome al answers yOUR questions' interview here on /.) continues to attempt to shed some light on yOUR foibles. talk about reverse polarity;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3046116.ece

Not the Tags (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23925749)

The Slashdot title implies the tags are the problem, but the article says what was tested was tags and readers. It's likely the readers are the problem and it doesn't matter if the tags are even there.

Noticed and Unnoticed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23925769)

May or may not Be noticed
Electromagnetic interference can potentially change a medical devices operation in a few ways
1) It can cause it to outright stop working where it will be noticed and corrected
or
2) It can cause it to give false readings continuously or intermittently causing a patient to br potentially killed by unnoticed false readings that causes staff to administer too much or too little medication and the patient dies

3) it can potentsily kill a patent outright when the RF interference stops some device that is in critical life care service

Medical devices are tested for strong Radio frequency fields on commonly used frequencies

However, I'll bet bet Few are tested for mirco-watt low level RF fields on odd RFID tag frequencies leading to a potential disaster

Lawyer will not have evidence or brains to prove that hss happened too soon , so its is a bad thing

Since the Power level of RFID tags are so low ,
tag position changes and wire / sensor wire routing on a patient of mere Millimeters difference can make the difference between life and death/ correct and false readings , making it that much harder to correct and detect tag generated interference issues

The problem is also 2 fold
The problem is not limited to te RFID tag itself , it can be the reader/ which sends out a more powerful transmitted RF signal than the tag itself

I have witnessed this happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23925775)

Every time I am near one of those RFID readers, my penis pump turns on. Its really embarrassing.

FUD and title errors (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23925807)

Even if you ignore this article's lack of specifics or detail (which makes it more or less FUD in my view), the title /. gave it is *flatly incorrect*. It's not the tags that are causing the interference; it is the reader/interrogator. These inexpensive passive UHF tags are just that, passive; it's the active (4W) signal that might be able to interfere.

Yes, there are serious concerns with RFID, but there's no point spreading vague FUD. In medical applications, interference obviously a very serious matter. Several groups are working on this problem, so how about we wait until we have solid results before we make up our minds?

Re:FUD and title errors (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 6 years ago | (#23927531)

Unfortunately most of the news stories Google brings up on this subject make the same error.

Well??? (2, Interesting)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925821)

Why are these medical devices having problems like that? I thought medical devices were SUPPOSED to be hardened against bad things and fail over nicely.

I guess not.

Re:Well??? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23927417)

Medical devices usually don't have "rugged" in their specs.

It's also hard to build a device that is at one hand very, very sensitive and able to pick up minuscle electronic signals (like brainwaves or heartbeats) and at the same time completely impervious to strong electronic signals and immune to EM interference.

Re:Well??? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 6 years ago | (#23927605)

> Medical devices usually don't have "rugged" in their specs.

Life safety devices have "fail-safe" in their specs. If "rugged" is what it takes to achieve that for a particular machine then it damn well better be "rugged".

> It's also hard to build a device that is at one hand very, very sensitive and able to
> pick up minuscle electronic signals (like brainwaves or heartbeats) and at the same time
> completely impervious to strong electronic signals and immune to EM interference.

Pumps and ventilators (the examples in the article) don't deal in miniscule signals. Even machines that do can be designed to be reasonably resistant to interference and to fail safely when overwhelmed.

Re:Well??? (2, Insightful)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 6 years ago | (#23927683)

Did I say impervious?

Nope.

We, instead, could detect false signals and ring a bell on what the designer thinks is "very bad input". These device guys know how the biology works, and what signals are just impossible. Instead of catching every last remnant of EM, they could catch errors and loudly warn the nurse/physician like INTERFERENCE DETECTED signal.

If there were bad EM detectors built into life-critical devices, FCC Part 18 solves that issue rather well.

The headline is wrong, as usual. (4, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925839)

The interference came from the readers not the tags. The tags are passive.

Re:The headline is wrong, as usual. (2, Informative)

TheMonkeyhouse (1271112) | more than 6 years ago | (#23926565)

if you read the link you will see that they tested both passive and active tags and the passive tags scored a higher problem score.

the implication from the limited text is that they were using the same reader (although this is not confirmed) but the difference in tags did change the issue rate, so the tags do share part of the problem.

Re:The headline is wrong, as usual. (1)

TheMonkeyhouse (1271112) | more than 6 years ago | (#23926629)

narf. forget it. i should read it better before i post. they took "two similar systems". you are right, it was interference from the readers at the frequencies they were using.

it doesn't matter if it is passive, active or battery assisted passive tags, ctirical medical devices should be protected against this sort of thing.

Re:The headline is wrong, as usual. (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 6 years ago | (#23926637)

> the implication from the limited text is that they were using the same reader (although
> this is not confirmed) but the difference in tags did change the issue rate, so the tags
> do share part of the problem.

No they don't. The passive tags are powered by the rf they absorb from the reader so they require the reader to put out more rf. They would have gotten the same results if there had been no tags present at all and they had just done "dummy" readings. The tags themselves emit orders of magnitude less rf than the reader.

Re:The headline is wrong, as usual. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23926685)

It depends on the type of RFID. There are both active and passive tags.

Kill switch (1)

lazyDog86 (1191443) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925841)

What is it with medical equipment? Does every piece down to a stethoscope have a radio-activated kill switch?

Remember when they were hypersensitive about cell phones in hospitals for the same reason? They still have the signs up, but no one seems to notice any more.

Sounds to me like the main issue here is how to get a grant to buy some cool stuff for your EM lab and maybe get your name in JAMA, but maybe I'm just a cynic.

Re:Kill switch (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23927437)

Remember when they were hypersensitive about cell phones in hospitals for the same reason? They still have the signs up, but no one seems to notice any more.

Unless they want to sell you their "comfort phones" or they have a deal with the local phone company, with a rate that makes you wonder if it includes tampons for your nose after you paid up. BOY, then they are all over you when you dare to bring your cell for your stay!

For your own safety, of course.

Don't panic! (1)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925853)

There's no need to panic, politicians don't have a heart to have any side effects from this revelation.

Re:Don't panic! (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23927453)

But they're usually in the age range for a pacemaker. At least if they're in any position to influence such a law.

Safety Recalls Needed (4, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925937)

The machines that suffered dangerous faults should be recalled and repaired. Keeping them away from RFID readers and other sources of rf will not suffice. The fact that rf interference could cause dangerous faults means that they contain design defects such that component failures or other sorts of damage or interference could also cause dangerous faults.

And yes, I have designed medical life support equipment, though not in this century.

Re:Safety Recalls Needed (2, Insightful)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 6 years ago | (#23926751)

Isn't this why the FCC here in the United States classifies different electronic devices according to whether or not they can emit or must accept radio frequency interference from outside sources? Perhaps the medical device manufacturers have a more critical classification where they have the "right" not to be interfered with (unlike say, your iPod which must accept any outside interference and generate none of its own) and designed their systems around this assumption of legal protection by device classifications?

Re:Safety Recalls Needed (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 6 years ago | (#23927515)

> Perhaps the medical device manufacturers have a more critical classification where they
> have the "right" not to be interfered with (unlike say, your iPod which must accept any
> outside interference and generate none of its own) and designed their systems around
> this assumption of legal protection by device classifications?

Even if there was such a classification relying on it to the detriment of patient safety would border on criminal negligence. Designers know that people often break such rules (often unknowingly: how many people know which of the gadgets around them emit rf at times?)

Rf is a normal part of the human environment these days. Anywhere you find people you are likely to find radio transmitters. Life safety and life support equipment must be designed in such a way that lives are not put at risk when someone keys a transmitter even when they do so against the rules.

More than just the devices... (2, Informative)

ravergonemad (512740) | more than 6 years ago | (#23926683)

In the coming years most of the containers for drugs could have RFID tags. California is pushing through a new law (E-Pedigree Law http://www.pharmacy.ca.gov/about/e_pedigree_laws.shtml) that creates a chain of custody for any drug. RFID has been one of the recommended technologies to help manufactures and everyone else in the supply-chain to deal with this law.

Having boxes with hundreds of RFID tags rolling down the hallways of a hospital doesn't seem so safe now!

Re:More than just the devices... (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 6 years ago | (#23927685)

> Having boxes with hundreds of RFID tags rolling down the hallways of a hospital doesn't
> seem so safe now!

Please read the original article, not the erroneous Slashdot headline. The tags are passive. The interference comes from the "readers" which actually transceivers.

Re:More than just the devices... (2, Interesting)

IHC Navistar (967161) | more than 6 years ago | (#23930871)

It also makes it much more easier for "Highway Pirates" to target specific types of merchandise. Here in Claifornia, many truck drivers are targets of well-planned hijackings where criminals steal whatever the trucker is hauling for sale on the black market. A good RFID reader would allow gangs to easily discriminate profitable targets from unprofitable targets (i.e. iPhones and plasma TVs from spinach and brussels sprouts.).

Personally, I don't like the idea of tracking every single thing, including people, with RFID tags. Yes, they may be useful in tracking inventory, but far greater security needs to be used.

Whats especially troubling is the plan to line "International Corridors" in the U.S. with Chinese-monitored RFID readers.

Interfering With Passports (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#23928287)

I'm still trying to find the way to determine just how much power to use in a given microwave oven to fry the RFID in a new US passport, without damaging the rest of the passport (like a burn mark, or discolored ink).

Re:Interfering With Passports (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#23929467)

AFAIK in every single microwave oven there is a single magnetron which is either on or off. The "power" level on the microwave actually corresponds to a duty cycle, and the cycles are pretty long because turning that thing on and off is ostensibly hard on the supporting hardware. I mean, you can feel it. And I'm not talking about a leaky microwave.

The point here is that if you want a lower power level you need a weaker microwave. The more relevant issue is the duration of exposure. However the US passport is supposed to have a mylar layer in the jacket, so determining the precise amount of exposure necessary is practically impossible. Your best bet is to come up with an RFID reader and just microwave the passport for a second, then two seconds, et cetera until the thing stops responding to pings. It takes a certain amount of time before the magnetron actually engages, so you have to account for that, too.

Or you could just keep your passport in a ziploc antistatic bag (silver not pink) and not worry about it...

Re:Interfering With Passports (1)

blacklint (985235) | more than 6 years ago | (#23929895)

Using the microwave as a hammer should also work. Or a hammer, for that matter.

Stupid designers (1)

darkpixel2k (623900) | more than 6 years ago | (#23928579)

A new study suggests RFID systems can cause 'potentially hazardous incidents in medical devices.

Seriously--who the f*ck designs this 'medical' equipment. I have RFID tags and readers that are near tons of computer equipment every day. Switches, routers, servers, workstations...none of them have 'potentially hazardous' incidents.

When you buy medical grade equipment, you are paying *TONS* more money, simply to make sure the electronics aren't going to fail and cause a loss of human life. How the hell does my ordinary desktop PC survive the hellish fury of the RFID scanner sitting next to it? Why can't that be duplicated in medical devices.

Am I the moron here?

Re:Stupid designers (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 6 years ago | (#23931433)

I can crash many PCs just by transmitting near them on my 5 Watt VHF hand-held transceiver. That wouldn't happen if they were properly designed.

Easy (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 6 years ago | (#23930829)

Just reinforce medical equipment against EM radiation. PRevent them from receiving and emitting unwanted radio waves. If an equipment can be disrupted by the faint field of an RFID, then it is probably very vulnerable to cellphones as well.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...