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Use of Cellular Telephones in the Hospital Environment

      OBJECTIVE

      To determine whether cellular telephones used in a normal way would cause interference with medical devices located in patient care areas of hospitals.

      METHODS

      Two cellular telephones from different cellular carriers were tested in various patient care areas between February 15, 2006, and June 29, 2006. To monitor the medical devices and equipment in the patient care areas during testing, we observed the device displays and alarms.

      RESULTS

      Interference of any type occurred in 0 of the 75 patient care rooms during the 300 tests performed. These 300 tests involved a total of 192 medical devices. The incidence of clinically important interference was 0% (95% confidence interval, 0%-4.8%).

      CONCLUSIONS

      Although cellular telephone use in general has been prohibited in hospitals because of concerns that these telephones would interfere with medical devices, this study revealed that when cellular telephones are used in a normal way no noticeable interference or interactions occurred with the medical devices.
      CDMA (code division multiple access), ECG (electrocardiograph), GSM (global system for mobile communication), RF (radiofrequency), RSSI (received signal strength indication)
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