Study: Cell Phone Use Safe in Hospitals

Add the hospital as another place where cell phones may soon become even more common: a new study contradicts claims by some that the devices create interference with hospital equipment.

Not all electronic equipment fairs the same, however, according to researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. A portable CD player did cause interference to an electrocardiogram device when used nearby.

Outside of the hospital, anti-theft devices in stores may pose a risk to those with implantable devices designed to control heart rhythm. Reports indicate at least two occurrences where a pacemaker or defibrillator malfunctioned.

To come up with the finding on cell phones, 192 medical devices were subject to cell phone usage in over 300 tests. Researchers found no noticeable malfunction with the equipment.

The findings could call into question the ban on cell phones imposed by most hospitals, which have long believed that the radio frequencies emitted by the devices would cause potentially life-threatening issues for patients.

The March issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings relayed two stories of problems linked to the use of anti-theft devices in retail stores.

One woman with an implanted pacemaker collapsed while standing in doorway for an extended period of time, while another man with a implanted defibrillator was shocked after standing near one of the systems for too long.

Researchers recommended that retail store owners be mindful of where they place the devices in relation to checkout counters and merchandise. The paper also argued that the devices should not be camouflaged by signage that could attract people to stand near them for long periods of time.

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