As RFID technology becomes more abundantly used in the health industry, some are concerned of what effects they may have on their pacemakers and implanted devices. The FDA, in collaboration with some major medical implant manufacturers, conducted a study to determine the effects of RFID readers on common implantable cardiac devices, according to HealthCanal.com.
The study concluded that while high-frequency readers may cause little to no damage, the low-frequency RFID readers should be the ones where there are concerns. Implantable devices of today commonly use filters to minimize interference from higher-frequency signals, but due to limitations in design the filtering of low-frequency signals is not as easy to do.
The in vitro testing showed that low frequency RFID readers caused reactions in 67% of pacemaker and 47% of ICD tests. The tests were conducted from distances ranging from 2.5 to 60 cm, and as expected the greatest interference was recorded at the shorter distances where the signal was the strongest. Some of the reactions include inappropriate pacing, changed pacing rates, high-voltage shock and device re-programming.
Despite the vitro testing, to date, the FDA has not received any incident reports of electromagnetic interference caused by any RFID system.
Food and Drug officials claim that there is no need for panic, and individuals with implanted cardiac devices should only be aware of these circumstances as RFID implementation continues to flourish in the health field. The Food and Drug Administration hope to continue by creating standards and requirements for RFID manufactures, by taking this information into account.
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