Is Medical Equipment Radio Frequency Interference Present in Hospitals & Clinics?
Medical Equipment Radio Frequency Interference is similar to that which effects all electronic devices. Medical devices and equipment are often associated with and powered and controlled by electronic circuits. These instruments are constructed from the same electronic chips and circuits that power our TV sets, stereo systems, microwave ovens and cell phones.
In some instances we all have observed that EMI/RFI electrical interference effects normal electronics devices. (Turn on your AM radio next to the microwave oven). The same sort of RFI problems cause Medical Equipment Radio Frequency Interference in hospitals, clinics and other medical settings.
This indeed is the case. Reports have noted that RFI, radio frequency interference, shows up in all sorts of medical devices. The interference ranges from just an annoyance to hampering operations. At worst case it might become potentially lethal to providers or patients, depending upon the circumstances and equipment involved.
What Standards Define Medical Equipment Radio Frequency Interference?
There is an intentional standard called the 1993 IEC 60601-1-2. It sets out a standard of three volts/meter for emissions in the 26-1000 Megahertz range. This means that sensitive life sustaining instruments need to be shielded and able to operate safely in fields up to this value. Medical devices that are deemed to be “non-life supporting”, require EMI/RFI testing only at these three specific frequencies: 27.12, 40.68 and 915.0 Megahertz.
Protecting Medical Equipment from Interference
Medical instrument providers are mandated to protect their medical equipment from all harmful Medical Equipment Radio Frequency Interference is present in and possibly affects the equipment they manufacture. Medical personnel observe on many occasions, that interference does occur. Quite often this interference comes from cell phones and pagers used by medical personnel and medical first aid responders. RFI/EMI emanates from everyday sources such as smart-meters, cell phone towers, Wi-Fi routers, as well as public safety transmitters and, not last but least, other medical equipment. Even poorly shielded microwave ovens emit troublesome radiation.
Preventing Medical Equipment Radio Frequency Interference
Medical device manufacturers shield and protect most of theses devices if they are properly designed at the outset. Current noisy electrical environments include the “Internet of Things”, electronic security alarms, radar sensors, video cameras, home & professional internet routers, or personal medical devices worn on wrist bands. We all are attached to our cellular phones. We expect that RFI/EMI interference with medical devices will be a continuing problem. Electromagnetic interference should be addressed both in the design, manufacture and the use of these devices in the medical setting.
Vigilance Needs to be the Normal Attitude in Safety
Finding Medical Equipment Radio Frequency Interference within medical facilities needs to be a high priority. Medical equipment RFI is easily tested by professionals using quality electromagnetic field strength meters and spectrum analyzers. These test instruments pinpoint the exact location of the offending equipment and the strength of interfering EMI fields. They accurately measure RFI fields and determine their compliance with the US and International standards referenced above.
If you have any concerns, questions or comments, please either leave me a message or comment below. I will try to answer any of your questions or concerns.