Contributed by Joanne C. Kelleher
Remko van der Togt, from Vrije University, in Amsterdam, led a study whose objective was to assess and classify incidents of electromagnetic interference (EMI) by RFID on critical care equipment. The results, which were published in the Journal of American Medical Association on June 25th, concluded that 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.
Remko van der Togt; Erik Jan van Lieshout; Reinout Hensbroek; E. Beinat; J. M. Binnekade; P. J. M. Bakker. Electromagnetic Interference From Radio Frequency Identification Inducing Potentially Hazardous Incidents in Critical Care Medical Equipment. JAMA, 2008;299(24):2884-2890 http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/299/24/2884
The media has responded to this study with headlines like:
‘Smart’ cards can interfere with medical equipment, study shows
RFID may cause interference with medical equipment
Radio-Wave Devices May Play Havoc With Medical Equipment
Wireless Chips: a Threat to Hospital Patients?
Wireless chips may endanger patients in hospital
How RFID Can Kill You
RFID could kill you
Wow, what a change from standards should be updated and tests of EMI should be performed to you will die from RFID. And these are mainstream publications or journalists, not blogs by conspiracy theorists or RFID haters.
When researchers at the Mayo Clinic, University of Amsterdam, Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and other organizations identified problems of electromagnetic interference by cell phones on hospital equipment, the headlines weren’t nearly as dire. The focus of many of the headlines was about the need to turn the phones off when in hospitals, not that the cell phones could kill you.
Cell phones can also be used to track your location, but RFID gets all of the bad press about that topic too. Is this because cell phones have become ubiquitous but the public and the media don’t understand the technology behind RFID? Headlines like this do not help.
I see the requirement to do on-site EMI tests as another RFID security issue that needs to be addressed during the RFID implementation process.