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AIM Global to Develop Protocols for Testing Effects of RFID Emissions in Health Care

By early 2009, the auto-ID industry association hopes to publish a set of methodologies that can be used to determine the impact of tag and reader transmissions on medical devices, drugs, blood and human physiology.
By Beth Bacheldor
Oct 14, 2008AIM Global, a worldwide industry association for automated identification and mobility technologies, has announced plans to develop a set of test protocols that it hopes will be employed around the world to study RFID's effects on medical devices, clinical instruments, and pharmaceuticals, blood products and other biologics.

The test protocols, to consist of specific sets of test plans and methodologies, will be crafted by the organization's RFID Experts Group (REG), of which there are currently about 40 member companies, including Q.E.D. Systems, a provider of IT and engineering services. Although only a subset of those 40 will be directly involved in the protocols' development, all members will play some role in the project.

Dan Mullen
"There have been a number of different studies or tests done [studying the effects of RF in health-care settings]," says Dan Mullen, AIM Global's president, "and to the members of the REG's credit, we have decided to create a set of test protocols that are repeatable and consistent that the industry can look at and use to determine whether there are any concerns or issues."

Mullen cites several studies unveiled in July—particularly one conducted by researchers at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and by RFID consulting and systems integration firm BlueBean, and another conducted by researchers at the University of Amsterdam's Academic Medical Center in the Netherlands as part of a government research project, and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Both studies examined whether electromagnetic radiation from RFID systems would disrupt infusion pumps, EKG monitors and other medical equipment. Their findings, however, differed. The IUPUI/BlueBean study discovered no problems with electromagnetic interference (EMI) (see New RFID Study Finds No Interference With Medical Devices), while the Dutch study did find incidents of EMI by RFID on critical-care equipment in a non-clinical setting (see Researchers Warn RFID May Disrupt Medical Equipment).

"At a certain point, we realized we needed to do something about this," says Craig Harmon, the REG chairperson, and president and CEO of Q.E.D. Systems. Harmon says he and others had received a number of calls regarding the IUPUI/BlueBean and University of Amsterdam studies, and that industry concern greatly spurred action by AIM Global. The organization initially felt the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should lead the effort, but later changed its mind upon meeting with FDA representatives who acknowledged such an initiative could take two or three years.


david frenkel 2008-10-20 09:56:22 PM
Effects of RFID Emissions in Health Care I am a little baffled by this whole proposed study. To do a conclusive study of ICD's you would have to do clinical trials which are expensive and take time. I doubt any of the major ICD manufacturers would donate an ICD for the study. Are any medical device manufacturers involved in this study? Without the FDA and the device manufacturer’s involvement you would have a very inconclusive study. David Frenkel

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