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November 21, 2007

Radiofrequency Identification Technology in Health Care: Benefits and Potential Risks

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Office of Device Evaluation, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, US Food and Drug Administration, Rockville, Maryland.

JAMA. 2007;298(19):2305-2307. doi:10.1001/jama.298.19.2305

Today's health care system has an opportunity for increasing its use of wireless technology to improve patient care. From a physician's office to an operating room, wireless technology provides great potential for such services as real-time cardiac waveform delivery, medical device alarm notifications, surgical instrument and hospital equipment tracking, and e-prescription writing. Radiofrequency identification (RFID) is a wireless technology emerging within the health care arena to improve patient care and hospital efficiency. As multiple types of short-range wireless technologies are used simultaneously within close range inside a hospital setting, the potential for interference among them and with medical devices becomes a concern. In this Commentary, we describe some of the current and potential health care applications of RFID and consider the possibility for electromagnetic interference among devices sharing the same frequencies when used in dense wireless environments.