Journalists “screw up” health story… trust business to fix the problem, says business blogger.
(RFID tags didn’t cause his heart attack. But arphids can make matters worse. Photo: Daubentonia)
Widespread reports this week that RFID signals could kill you in the hospital are false, a technology business blogger is claiming.
The blogger, at the technology website ZNDet, makes this bogus assertion: that hundreds of news outlets are twisting the results of a disturbing Dutch finding (published by the Journal of the American Medical Association): that RFID tags and readers can cause livesaving equipment to switch off.
In fact, Vrije University researchers reported total switch-offs and other severe malfunctions in its tests of pacemakers, dialysis machines and ventilators, operated within about ten feet of RFID tags.
The ZDNet blogger, Dana Blankenhorn, employing a condescending “now let’s set the record straight” voice, ignores the central findings of the Dutch study. Instead, Blankenhorn says that hundreds of news reports, based on the JAMA report, “screw up” those facts.
Blankenhorn says a tweak in RFID standards — a process that could take nearly a decade, as today’s standards did (something he does not note) — is all that is needed to fix the EM interference problem.
But the RFID horse is already out of the gate: The tags are becoming as ubiquitous in hospital wards and operating rooms as they are on the street. (Click here for my Boston Globe report on RFID tags in hospitals.)
Lack of RFID standards leads to media panic | ZDNet Healthcare | ZDNet.com
There is a problem with RFID in hospitals. There is no standard that will tell hospitals what frequencies the tags are using. Thus they can’t tell when the frequencies being used by the tags might interfere with other gear.
This problem is very easy to fix. The industry gets together on an RFID medical standard, which specifies which frequency is to be used. My choice would be the upper range of 802.11, around 5.8 MHz. Medical devices don’t run there.