Radio-frequency identification systems can have a negative impact on medical equipment in critical-care settings, according to research conducted in Amsterdam.
Researchers found electromagnetic interference from RFID systems led to incidentshaving an unintended change in equipment functionin 34 out of 123 tests of 41 different medical devices. Of those 34 incidents, 22 were defined as hazardous, which included a total switchoff and restart of mechanical ventilators, complete stoppage of syringe pumps and renal replacement devices, and interruption of external pacemaker activity. The study will be published in the June 25 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Tests were conducted in a controlled, nonclinical setting, the researchers wrote in their report.
The study included random tests of two types of RFID: passive and active systems. Passive RFID tags do not have their own internal power and must be activated by the electromagnetic field generated by the reader device. Active systems include battery-powered tags that do not require activation by the readers electromagnetic field. Passive RFID systems led to 63% of total incidents and 41% of the hazardous events, according to the report.
The study was conducted in 2006 as part of RFID in healthcare research initiated by the Dutch Ministry of Health and carried out at the Academic Medical Center of the University of Amsterdam. While RFID technology is touted in the U.S., hospitals here have been slow to adopt it, according to a survey (Premium registration required.) of healthcare chief information officers.