Medical Equipment Radio Frequency Interference

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.

Medical Equipment Radio Frequency Interference Logo

Safety and Medical Equipment Radio Frequency Interference Interference are Related

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 medical equipment radio interference fields and determine their compliance with the US and International standards referenced above.

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