RFID Safety Concerns Reflect HIBCC's Position

Study finds that UHF from RFID technologies interfere with medical devices

June 26, 2008


The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has published the results of a study of electromagnetic interference (EMI) from radio frequency identification (RFID) technologies with medical equipment and devices in critical care environments. The study, which was conducted in a controlled environment, tested the impact of ultra high frequency (UHF) from RFID and concluded that UHF interfered with medical devices in 63% of the tests conducted.

The JAMA published results are consistent with recommedations made by the Health Industry Business Communications (HIBCC), which in 2006 published "Radio Frequency Identification (RFID in Healthcare: Benefits, Limitations, and Recommendations." In its report HIBCC recommended that 13.56 MHz High Frequency (HF) be adopted for healthcare item level tagging specifically because its smaller read range is less likely to result in EMI with medical devices.

HIBCC's position is in contrast to other organizations and product vendors that proposed UHF for implementation on medical device labeling. "Here we have evidence of how commercially-based standards can create serious consequences if used in critical care healthcare environments," said Robert Hankin, Ph.D., President of HIBCC. He further stated that , "HIBCC was founded twenty-five years ago precisely because product identification standards that had been implemented in grocery stores and other retail environments were not adequate to meet the more stringent requirements for patient safety in hospitals and other health care environments. We applaud the recent emphasis on patient safety and other risk factors in health care supply chain and we are sure the industry will take heed of studies such as this one."

For further reading on this topic please click on the links below:

IEEE Spectrum: RFID Systems May Disrupt Med Devices

JAMA: UHF Interferes with Medical Devices

For additional information contact:
Kirk Kikirekov
(02) 9797 0883
kirk.kikirekov@hibcc-au.com.au