June 30, 2008

 Stopping the clock

News from JAMA :

Researchers from Amsterdam University (van der Togt, Lieshout et al.) tested RFID tags and readers on 41 electronic medical devices. In 123 tests, RFID signals caused 22 incidents that could have been hazardous in a clinical setting.

The New Scientist snippet I got this from (here, behind paywall) - not the original article - concludes that RFID technology has to be kept out of hospitals.

There is a radical alternative. The makers of medical equipment should adapt their expensive products to the Maxwellian plenum we actually live in, saturated with radio waves at every imaginable frequency, and not some adiabatic ideal.

It is a well-known medical fact that doctors are protected by Semmelweiss fields (footnote) from transmitting bugs to patients with their hands and ties, and causing interference with their pagers. But they still have to worry about the hoi polloi: nurses, orderlies, visitors, and the patients themselves. As with consumer devices on aircraft, something has to give - and it won't be the iPhone.

Semmelweiss fields strengthen with seniority, and so form a special case of the more general Keiserenseffekt identified by H.C.Andersen in 1837.

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