There have been many studies and reports on the use of RFID within a medical facility. These reports primarily focus on research and point out why RFID should not be used in the medical industry. But somehow our competitors do not heed this advice and continue to use it, costing lives and producing in-efficient platforms. Here we will just be pointing out the facts and in the interest of transparency.
RFID has been around since the Second World War, and is so old a 10 year old could by-pass it. But that is not the purpose of this, here we are going to highlight and point out why RFID is Bad for the Medical Sector. Those companies who use Wi-FI, Infer-red use it with RFID.
The main issues or RFID in hospitals are this:
- RFID cannot be used near sensitive equipment
- RFID is easily tampered with
- RFID is easily copied and manipulated.
The fact that RFID cannot be used near sensitive equipment should in it’s self be a red flag to the medical industry, there are lots of sensitive equipment within a medical facility, especially in Intensive Care units, maybe this is why our competition do not promote this area of the medical facility, that they cannot use their RTLS platform in these areas. What happens is the RFID tags give off a magnetic field (both passive and active), this field is what interferes with the equipment.
Studies and research carried out
A study carried out by Dr Erik Jan van Lieshout of the Academic Medical Centre of the University of Amsterdam proves this interference, and there are other research reports which back this up. For the study, Lieshout and colleagues decided to assess and classify any incidents they found of such interference on critical care equipment.
What Dr Jan van Lieshout found was:
“RFID caused interference in 34 of the 123 tests they performed. They conducted 3 tests per medical device”. This study concluded that RFID could disrupt the operation of defibrillators and other medical equipment, occasionally inducing “potentially hazardous incidents in medical devices.”
“Of these 34 incidents 22 were classified hazardous, 2 as significant and 10 as light”
“The passive RFID signal interfered with 26 medical devices, including 8 that were also affected by the active RFID signal”
The median distance between the RFID reader and the medical device in all incidents was 30 cm (total range was from 0.1 to 600 cm). The authors concluded that:
“In a controlled non-clinical setting, RFID induced potentially hazardous incidents in medical devices.”
They recommend that:
“Implementation of RFID in the critical care environment should require on-site EMI [electromagnetic interference] tests and updates of international standards.”
Their reference to on-site EMI tests and upgrades, is very costly and would eat up a large part of the hospital budget to try and make RFID compliant in the medical sector, and there is no guarantee that it would be achieved.
I will continue discussing this topic in our next post.
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