Radio Waves and Medicine: Cure or Witches Brew? Part 2
Diagnostic tests are an invaluable tool in identifying patient problems. The results must be accurate if the diagnosis is to be correct. The tests are often too expensive to be repeated, and facilities are in too high demand to tolerate scheduling changes to accommodate repeat procedures. This is particularly so if they are due to RF interference which can be prevented!
Case Study: A regional medical center established a sleep lab. In reviewing the traces of bodily parameters taken during the night, doctors noted weird sleep patterns never before described in the medical literature! Alas, no Nobel prizes came from this. Alert technicians realized that these behaviors happened only when the radio station down the street was broadcasting.
LBA interference engineers confirmed this as the problem, and prescribed RF shielding services for the sleep lab.
Case Study: Several years ago, an incident occurred in a local hospital when an Ultrasound machine used for tracking fetal growth developed noise in the display that obscured the picture. In addition to being an aggravation to the medical attendants, imagine the erosion of confidence on the part of the patient and her husband viewing a distorted and obscured fetus!
This problem was traced to a nearby radio station by LBA engineers. As it happened, the station went out of business before RF shielding was installed. The old adage that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is definitely true in the case of RF emissions and medical technology. It is never too early to plan for effective RF interference abatement.
Beyond the cases outlined above, RF interference might manifest itself as false positive or negative readings, transient, undesirable audio-on signals, and aberrant readings on EKG and ECG machines from unshielded leads, to name but a few.
Medical offices are, by virtue of their focus, usually clustered in specific areas in any urban setting. Frequently, this cluster of medical facilities includes a hospital with its abundance of medical technology. Urban areas are a hotbed of constantly evolving RF sources both local and ephemeral, including multiple high power broadcasting stations. This provides a distinct possibility of higher RF interference which will have an increasingly greater impact on the medical equipment within the area. A convenient and free computer tool to provide an alert to local sources of high power radio interference may be found at the LBA Toolbox.