Cellular Telephone Interference With Medical Equipment

Tri, Jeffrey L.; Severson, Rodney P.; Firl, Allen R.; Hayes, David L.; Abenstein, John P.
October 2005
Mayo Clinic Proceedings;Oct2005, Vol. 80 Issue 10, p1286
Academic Journal
OBJECTIVE: To assess the potential electromagnetic Interference (EMI) effects that new or current-generation cellular telephones have on medical devices. MATERIAL AND MLTHODS: For this study, performed at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn, between March 9, 2004, and April 24. 2004, we tested 16 different medical devices with 6 cellular telephones to assess the potential for EMI. Two of the medical devices were tested with both new and old Interface modules. The 6 cellular telephones chosen represent the different cellular technology protocols in use: Code Division Multiple Access (2 models), Global System for Mobile communications, Integrated Digital Enhanced Network, Time Division Multiple Access, and analog. The cellular telephones were tested when operating at or near their maximum power output. The medical devices, connected to clinical simulators during testing, were monitored by observing the device displays and alarms. RESULTS: Of 510 tests performed, the incidence of clinically important Interference was 1.2%: EMI was induced in 108 tests (21.2%). Interference occurred in 7 (44%) of the 16 devices tested. CONCLUSIONS: Cellular telephones can interfere with medical equipment. Technology changes in both cellular telephones and medical equipment may continue to mitigate or may worsen clinically relevant interference. Compared with cellular telephones tested in previous studies, those currently in use must be closer to medical devices before any interference is noticed. However, periodic testing of cellular telephones to determine their effects on medical equipment will be required.


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