Radio Frequency Tags Can Be Dangerous For Patients

Radio Frequency Tags Can Be Dangerous For Patients A study published on Tuesday in the journal of the American Medical Association said that Radio Frequency Tags (RIFDs) commonly used on medical devises for tracking purposes can interfere and even switch off life saving equipment used in hospitals.  

The usage of RIFDs is on the rise in healthcare helping to identify patients and give the location of equipment.

The study author Dr. Donald Berwick, of Harvard University's School of Public Health said, "The study highlights the fact that we really need our healthcare system to understand technologies are always double-edged. They can bring benefit but usually also have concurrent hazards, so we need to be sophisticated and wise about these technologies and how we use them.”

The researchers at Vrije University in Amsterdam tested 41 critical care devices such as pacemakers, a ventilator etc., with RIFD devices at varying distances to study the effect. Of 123 tests, 34 showed interference, and doctors rated 22 of those as hazardous. Berwick felt further studies were needed to examine if this interference could endanger patients.

According to a spokesperson for NHS Connecting for Health which manages various IT projects for the health services, RIFDs had the potential to help patient’s safety and reduce the mistakes caused by wrong identification of patients. She said, "Any product such as this which is for use in a healthcare setting has to meet a standard which means it is very unlikely to interfere with medical equipment. This risk is more likely to come from RFID tags from other sources - such as a travel card, a tag on clothing, or on another retail item."