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Perhaps the most serious consequences of interference from all forms of EMF are those which occur in medical laboratories and hospitals. Here, common electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) issues take on life-threatening dimensions. Interference with the normal operation of medical devices can have catastrophic consequences.
With the increase in utilization of microprocessor-based diagnostic, therapeutic, and patient monitoring equipment within hospitals, corresponding increases in failure rates of these devices from interfering radio frequency (RF) sources are occurring. There are many sources of RF in hospitals including radio paging transmitters, walkie-talkie units used by maintenance and security personnel, TV sets, Cellular phones and other RF signals from these devices can cause catastrophic interference with critical care patient wireless telemetry monitoring systems, ultra sound and other imaging equipment.
Medical devices known to be sensitive to AC magnetic fields include EEG/EKG/ECG equipment and other devices utilizing sensitive bio-electric sensors. Certain implanted medical devices, including insulin delivery systems and cardiac pacemakers, are also sensitive to environmental magnetic fields. A wide range of diagnostic medical imaging systems including MRI, NMR, and Ultra Sound equipment can often be susceptible to interference from elevated magnetic field levels.
RFI, Radio Frequency Interference, is a growing concern for medical facilities. Medical facilities are increasingly going wireless, from administrative systems that update a patients records wirelessly from a doc’s hand held device to patient monitoring systems to RFID interlocks in security measures to pharmaceuticals tracking. And of course, many patients have their own cell phones and other devices which can sometimes interfere with medical systems.
Diagnostic systems include a whole range of instruments which can be compromised by RFI. MRIs are one example; an MRI is essentially a highly sensitive radio frequency detection device. Problems frequently arise when instruments are operating out of their legally authorized spectrum. The goal in RF consulting is to ensure all wireless systems function and interoperate as designed without causing interference to any other systems.
Meeting HIPPA regulations can be a challenge for wireless systems. Patient information is transmitted within a hospital and frequently out of the hospital to a processing unit, billing operation, or records database. Patient information must be kept confidential and secure, which can be difficult when using RF networks.
It’s often possible to avoid issues through design and good planning. If interference occurs, timely diagnosis and cure are the objectives. Diagnosis requires specialized measurement equipment and system knowledge, while cure can often involve low or no-cost recommendations, such as relocating the source of the RFI or the victim instrument. Sometimes shielding is required. FMS is committed to finding the most cost-effective functional solutions for remediation of RF problems.
FMS as the EMF/EMI Consultant designed and installed the passive and active mitigation systems for this newly established interdisciplinary organization under the Office of Research of the University of California Irvine (UCI) to house state of the art electron-microscope labs (4 imaging cells). The project required analysis of interference potential of all internal and external emission sources, which included vehicle and facility elevators (DC), broadband electrical system (AC) sources, etc.
FMS was engaged as the project’s EMI Consultant by the project architect (Wilson Architects) to conduct an electromagnetic field (EMF) analysis in an existing laboratory (shell space) located in the basement level of the Harvard CNS facility.
Seattle Children’s Research Institute is currently in the construction phase of ”Building Cure”, a 540,000 square foot research building, which will be dedicated to developing therapies for children with diseases such as Cancer, Type 1 Diabetes and Sickle Cell Anemia.
FMS was engaged to conduct a thorough assessment of the building’s design for EMI interference threat concerns to sensitive research equipment. A document review and extensive 3-Dimension computer simulation studies were conducted to evaluate EMF emissions from the building’s electrical distribution, mechanical and other systems.
Over its 20 years, FMS has successfully completed hundreds of EMI projects which included a diverse range of consulting and mitigation services.