Once Again, Mobile Phones Don't Seem To Impact Hospital Equipment

from the took-'em-long-enough dept

Call in the Mythbusters. If they can show that mobile phones don't cause fueling stations to explode, perhaps they can show that it won't turn off hospital equipment either. For years, people have questioned whether or not mobile phones really interfered with hospital equipment -- and even doctors have been clamoring to be allowed to use mobile phones. Plenty of folks who understand wireless technologies have noted that the chance of interference is ridiculously low, but old habits die hard. However, it looks like a few hospitals are finally updating their thinking. Textually points out that a hospital in Singapore is now allowing staff to carry mobile phones after tests showed that mobile phones have no impact on medical equipment. Of course, while this probably won't surprise too many people, the real question should be "what took so long?"


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    dorpus, Jan 23rd, 2006 @ 4:55pm

    As usual

    Mike makes his blanket statements about medicine, without knowing anything about it. Does he want to claim, categorically, that cell phone signals could not interfere with any kind of medical equipment, by any maker, under any circumstances? Is it better to let equipment malfunction, therefore cause patients to die, so people can gab on their precious cell phones? People should be talking loudly inside hospitals and interfering with medical procedures, shouldn't they?



     

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  2.  
    identicon
    nonuser, Jan 23rd, 2006 @ 5:06pm

    Re: As usual

    Good point. At least one hospital reported that cell phone usage by guests was interfering with the donutmaking equipment.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    dorpus, Jan 23rd, 2006 @ 5:10pm

    Re: As usual

    Really, where are these hospitals that make donuts? Would this be an example of "free market forces" that Mike is so proud of? Why cure patients if you can make them sicker with donuts?

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Chris, Jan 23rd, 2006 @ 5:21pm

    Re: As usual

    It really depends on the specific equipment the hospital is using. If the hospital is using wireless telemetry products (read: patient monitoring products), a mobile phone placed close to the tranceiver can and will cause the nurse to come running in to find out why the patient has dropped from his/her terminal at the nurse's station.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2006 @ 5:29pm

    Re: As usual

    have any actually read the article? it says mobile phones can be used as long as they are two meters away from medical equipment. it also looks like it'll help efficiency in hospitals drastically due to being able to switch from the pager which only says what number paged them as opposed to being able to get texts with specific information which is what the hospital in singapore is doing. no need for a nurse to page and wait by the phone, or for a doctor to get a page (possibly an emergency) and look for a phone. if there's an emergency, they can see exactly where they have to run off too. this study has nothing to do with people gabbing on their precious cell phones, but trying to make the institution that tries and save lives more efficient.

    read articles before commenting... please.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Michelle, Jan 23rd, 2006 @ 5:30pm

    Re: As usual

    The problem will cell phones and medical equipment it Different cell phones mess with different equipment. A few years ago we had to get all of our ventilators extra shelding some cell phones messed with them and truned the vents off.

    Right now if you are standing within half a foot of the vital sign montors in ER they will stop sending info to the Central Station.

    It varies, most equipment works fine with most cell phones, but on a peice of life saving equipment do you want to take a chance?????


     

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  7.  
    identicon
    dorpus, Jan 23rd, 2006 @ 5:33pm

    Re: As usual

    So in other words, anonymous mike, you contradicted yourself by claiming it doesn't interfere with equipment.

    But then, what do we expect from mike anyway? He just quotes what he likes, and forgets any contradictions pointed out to him -- watch him claim the same things again later.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    John, Jan 23rd, 2006 @ 5:36pm

    Re: As usual

    Once again, dorpus the troll makes blanket statements about Mike's posts without actually bothering to take the time to understand them.

    Dorpus, go away already.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    me, Jan 23rd, 2006 @ 5:38pm

    re: Once Again, Mobile Phones Don't Seem To Impact

    Alternatively, you could look at some fairly careful studies that have been done on the issue ... which suggest that 1 - 4% of cell phone calls done close to medical equipment result in meaningful interference with the equipment's operation.

    Is 96-99% reliable enough for your life support machine? Cardiac monitor? Trust me -- it's actually upsetting when one of these devices does something unexpected. "Mode switching" means something really different in the ICU.

    Studies are published in The Mayo Clinic Proceedings, European Journal of Anesthesiology, and The Medical Journal of Australia, among others. Most of them suggest that the phones have to be pretty close to the equipment to do real damage.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Radio guy, Jan 23rd, 2006 @ 6:05pm

    Re: As usual

    Um...you've never heard of an alpha-numeric pager? You don't need a cell phone for text messaging...

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Dr. God, Jan 23rd, 2006 @ 6:06pm

    Re: As usual

    There is this magical device we carry...it's called a text pager. Try looking it up you cretin.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    TriZz, Jan 23rd, 2006 @ 6:08pm

    blah...

    ...I know that Nextel interferes with the PA systems in hospitals, just like it does with low-grade car speakers.

    I was in the hospital when I had Nextel and I received a text message that sent flickers and static throughout the PA system in the emergency waiting room. Needless to say, I got yelled at.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2006 @ 6:55pm

    Re: blah...

    i have a popular motorola phone that does that when near speakers or computer monitors. the v551. weird. when i was in student services at my college i had to turn it off cause the computer monitors started buzzing and flickering.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    SmallTwig, Jan 23rd, 2006 @ 7:09pm

    Hmm

    Well, I have personally experienced a malfunction with a parking ticket machine at a hospital, while using my cell phone. I ended up with a double parking fine :) Even if the chance is low, its not 0. I love google spell check :)

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    bill, Jan 23rd, 2006 @ 7:17pm

    Re: As usual

    i work in healthcare. cell phones do not interfere with equipment of any kind. it's for quiet, just like on airplanes and doctor's offices.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2006 @ 9:32pm

    Re: As usual

    lets take these "magical devices" you speak of, the text pagers. now... i'm not sure exactly how they work, cause i never needed one. though, i assume there are two possibilities. either, you have to type out the messages somehow (similar to text messaging w/o T9), or they're transcribed by some program and then sent. now, i dunno, can you clear up how either of these are faster than calling a person and giving them information? if typing, there's no way its fast enough. if its transcribed, there's no way its reliable enough, especially if talking quickly like, i dunno, in an emergency situation, where you might be saying a lot of information quickly, that if its misunderstood could cause major harm. so, before calling someone a cretin or what not (which i don't even know why that was called for, or even how thats the best you could come up with), think ahead about what you're suggesting. its awful and not well thought out. people need to stop lashing out and actually think for a second. first we get those who don't read the article, then we get people to have knee-jerk reactions. what's next?

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Swervin, Jan 23rd, 2006 @ 10:52pm

    Hospitals and Donuts

    I work in a hospital kitchen, and we in fact have donuts. And, as far as I know, a cellphone has no effect on industrial cooking equipment. (Also, does anyone take into account all the cell phones on silent recieving text messages and other bursts of data in a hospital?)

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Scott, Jan 24th, 2006 @ 5:53am

    Re: As usual

    Two meters? Are you serious, have you been in a hospital lately? When my son was born 2 years ago, and this New Years when my father-in-law was admitted for high blood pressure there was nowhere in either room I could be 2 meters away from equipment. There was equipment hooked up to patients in the hall, in every room I walked by. There was no where I was not within 4 feet of some piece of equipment much less 6.4.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    irish, Jan 24th, 2006 @ 8:07am

    Cell phones

    One of the hospitals here in Sheboygan, WI not only lifted the ban on call phones, but they got rid of a lot of internal phone systems by replacing them with cell phones. Now the nurse's stations and receptions desk all have a couple of cell phones for on-duty staff, and the less used main phone. This has been in effect for over three years. Makes me wonder why this is just now being reported as 'news'.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    SackedNutz, Jan 24th, 2006 @ 9:13am

    Cell phone suck

    If cell phones don't effect equipment then tell me why the heart monitor that was attached to my daughter decided to wig out at the same time several people showed up in the court yard tring to dial out. And also tell me when your friging call was more important then the lives of your fellow humans on the floors of the same hospital you are calling from. Get a life shit i am in the IT field where infomation is key....but there is a key factor here I am still able to fuction just fine w/o a cell phone plus my productivity is through the roof since smucks like the ones tring to use there cell phone in hospitals can't call me...:)

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous of Course, Jan 24th, 2006 @ 10:49am

    Re: Cell phones

    Doctors don't wash their hands before examining a
    patient anymore. Cell phones are just another
    source of germs they can carry with them to be
    sure you contract a flesh eating staph infection.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    haggie, Jan 24th, 2006 @ 11:04am

    No Subject Given

    Bought my GF a vibrator that goes off for 20-seconds every time her cell phone rings. She thought it was cool until her mom called...

    http://tinyurl.com/baenh

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Bryan Price, Jan 24th, 2006 @ 11:38am

    Let's think about this.

    People are all worried about what the cell phones can do. What about the damn cell towers themselves? Same radio frequencies, same power. Which is another point.
    Analog cell phones could put out as much as 10 watts of power (and usually didn't - only if you had a car kit (which back then was actually a separate phone in reality), or you had a bag phone - handhelds did not put out that kind of power), while digital phones (which have been on the market for what? 10 years now I think?) put out a maximum of 1/4 of a watt. And that's maximum. The digital phones only use enough wattage to reach the tower, so it could very well be much less.
    Now, those figures are from some 10 years ago. And yes, I'm a geek who's best friend is a geek who worked at Cellular one, er, Vodaphone, what is now known as Verizon, and while his geek work part was getting customers to use cellular for data (modems, credit card machines, vending machines), he also knew some of the geeks that are the real "Can you hear me now?" folk. So I certainly think that my information has to be reasonably correct.
    Two years ago, my wife was in Shands hospital in Gainesville, FL for a liver operation. Cell phones were everywhere, T-Mobile had all sorts of signs up telling employees about their deals, and evidently the hospital was a micro-cell, as people had no troubles using (T-Mobile) in the elevators. I had to go outside just to use my Cingular service. Patients often were using their own cell phones to call home. My wife did, as did her room mate.
    Let's apply some common sense here.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Bryan Price, Jan 24th, 2006 @ 11:44am

    Re: As usual

    Mike makes his blanket statements about medicine, without knowing anything about it. Does he want to claim, categorically, that cell phone signals could not interfere with any kind of medical equipment, by any maker, under any circumstances?

    Let's see, we have the FCC assigning frequencies, so should any kind of medical equipment, by any maker, under any circumstances use those same frequencies? That's a pretty resounding no.
    What is there to prevent medical equipment interfering with other medical equipment?
    For how many years have places with microwave ovens put up signs stating that they have them, for those people that have pacemakers? Not old enough to remember that?
    And we've got microwaves on every floor in every kitchen area in hospitals with microwave ovens!
    The nukers must go! The WiFi must go! The laptops must go! The computers must go! The wireless cardiac monitors must go!

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Bryan Price, Jan 24th, 2006 @ 11:47am

    Re: As usual

    Damn it! I didn't realize I replied to dorpus!

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    copasetic, Jan 30th, 2006 @ 12:48pm

    Cell Phones in hospitals

    Interesting, and all this time I thought "thuh sawth" was backerds. We have allowed mobiles in our hospitals for years, most since all digital networks cam into being. In fact, all the major hospitals where I live issued Treo's to their doctors, with both wired and wireless sync capability for the all the medical software they acquired for the units. I am in central North Carolina, so here it's a non-issue.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    zoe, May 8th, 2006 @ 1:22am

    yo

    dewrfetreuyhrt

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2006 @ 4:46pm

    Re: Re: As usual

    Most pagers are now able to receive text. Also, our docs use cordless phones which are not supposed to interfere with monitors.

     

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