TUESDAY June 24, 2008 (foodconsumer.org) -- Radio frequency
identification (RFID) tags are commonly used on medical devices for tracking
purposes. But the tags can interfere with critical care medical devices such as
pacemakers and may endanger patients, according to a study published Tuesday in
the journal of the American Medical Association.
The study showed that RFID tags may interfere with the function
of certain medical devices and could potentially lead to serious harm to a
patient aided with a critical care device.
"The study highlights the fact that we really need our
healthcare system to understand technologies are always double-edged," Dr.
Donald Berwick, of Harvard University's School of Public Health was quoted by
ABC News as explaining.
"They can bring benefit but usually also have
concurrent hazards, so we need to be sophisticated and wise about these
technologies and how we use them."
For the study, researchers at Vrije University in Amsterdam
tested 41 critical care medical devices including pacemakers, ventilators, IV
pumps, and anesthesia machines. They moved RFID tags around each device at
different distances to see if there is any interference with the device.
Of 123 tests, 34 tests showed interference with the device
near which a RFID tag was moved.
these 34 instances, doctors rated 22 as hazardous.
In all test settings, no patients were present or
Berwick said he would not
recommend that the use of RFID tags be discontinued, but suggested that
immediate further study should be initiated to examine if this type of interference
would endanger patients who use a device which is susceptible for the
interference from a RFID tag.
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