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DB 9702 Electromagnetic Compatibility of Medical Devices with Mobile Communications

Document details:

Type: Publication
Series No: DB 9702
Audience: Healthcare professionals
Published: March 1997
Format: Electronic only
Size: A4
Pages: 92
Price: n/a
ISBN/ISSN:
Author: MDA
Copyright: Crown
   

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Executive Summary
The compatibility of mobile communication equipment with medical devices is an area where much published information and guidance is conflicting. We have hence organised a large study, based on research conducted at 18 locations including hospitals and MDA evaluation centres. Data were gathered for 178 different models of medical device using a wide range of radio handsets. Overall, in 23% of tests medical devices suffered electromagnetic interference (EMI) from handsets. 43% of these interference incidents would have had a direct impact on patient care, and were rated as serious.

Similar handsets were grouped together on the basis of their effects on devices:

Emergency radios used by ambulance, police and fire personnel.
Security radios used by security, maintenance staff, and porters.
Cellphones including analogue and digital mobile phones.
Cordless phones including pagers and radio computer local area networks.

The type of radio handset made a large difference to the likelihood of interference.

41% of medical devices suffered interference from emergency radio handsets at a distance of 1m, with 49% of the responses being serious (category 1).

35% of medical devices suffered interference from security radio handsets at a distance of 1m, with 49% of the responses being serious (category 1).

By comparison only 4% of devices suffered interference from cellphones at a distance of 1m, with less than 0.1% showing serious effects. There were no marked differences between analogue and digital cellphones.

Our tests failed to detect significant levels of interference from cordless phones and radio computer local area networks, which are installed in some hospitals.

Some categories of medical device have a high susceptibility to interference. Physiological monitors, or devices incorporating them, such as defibrillators or external pacemakers, were the most severely affected. For every device type, some models consistently performed better than average.

 

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