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Is Your Tablet a Risk to Hospital Care?

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Medical personnel need to learn to keep their distance from others when using portable electronics.

Wi-Fi devices pose a very small risk of interference with electronic medical equipment, Concordia University researchers have found.

Credit: Concordia University

Doctors and nurses can use a portable electronic device such as a tablet computer without posing a danger to others as long as they adhere to the hospital's designated minimum separation distance (MSD).

Researchers from Concordia University report Wi-Fi devices would pose a very small interference risk to electronic medical equipment and patients. Health-care workers increasingly are using the devices to gain instant access to patient records, so the Concordia team wanted to study the risk of electromagnetic interference.

The high cost of determining and computing electromagnetic field strength was an obstacle, so the team developed a tool to estimate the likelihood a particular field would affect a given medical device. They also used a new mathematical model to account for the roaming nature of transmitters as medical staff moves around a patient's bed.

"Hospitals need to be vigilant that staff members obey the MSD rule," says Concordia professor Christopher Trueman. "The nature of the problem is that there can never be zero risk, but by complying with MSD, the risk can be reduced to a low enough value that it's very unlikely there will be interference."

From Concordia University
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Abstracts Copyright © 2015 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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