Normal Use of Cell Phones Safe in a Hospital Environment

There is no noticeable interference with medical devices

THURSDAY, March 8 (HealthDay News) -- Cellular phones have no noticeable effect on the safety or efficacy of medical devices in a hospital environment when used in a typical fashion, researchers report in the March issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Jeffrey L. Tri, M.S.E.E., of the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues tested two cellular phones from two different networks in various areas of a hospital. They observed the displays and alarms of medical devices in the vicinity for signs of interference.

In all, they performed 300 tests in 75 patient care rooms near 192 medical devices. There were no interference events of clinical importance.

"Studies by Tri et al. can give us confidence that it is unlikely that a visitor's cell telephone or other portable device will cause harm to a hospitalized patient," writes John P. Abenstein, M.S.E.E., M.D., of the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, in an accompanying editorial. However, he adds that the onus is on medical device manufacturers to "continue to test their devices against the wide range of potential electromagnetic interference that their products may face. The obligation most appropriately rests on the companies that design and fabricate our technology."

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