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Electromagnetic Interference

Hospital Device Immunity

RF Transmitters
RF Transmitters 2 Major Categories: 1. Intentional

Portable (handheld or mobile):

Cellular Telephones, 2-Way Radio, Telemetry

Paging Tower, Broadcast, Radar



Electrically powered equipment including Medical Devices Nature

RF Transmitters
Effective Radiated Power
Function of Output Power and Antenna Efficiency Usually fixed except Cellular More power = greater range at same wavelength

RF Transmitters
Field Strength (V/m)
Distance dependant
In free space far field strength is inversely proportional to distance Reflections can cause higher than expected strength Referenced to wavelength

RF Transmitters
Short wavelength (high frequency) more problematic than long wavelength (low frequency) Conductors measuring or of the wavelength are most susceptible to interference

RF Propagation

Transmitter and Receiver
E.g. Radio or TV Broadcast Transmission


Physical connection
Does not need to be directly coupled E.g. ESU coupled to Pt. monitor via Pt.


Magnetic or Capacitive coupling
E.g. signal cables routed parallel to each other

EMI Induced Problems


Bit Corruption
Associated with digital devices
Artifact changes byte value Usually fixed with error detection schemes


Junction Rectification
Associated with analog devices
High frequency AC produces DC at semiconductor junction Produces DC off set voltage or modulated signal

Electric Field Strength in Hospital locations (500 kHz to 1.5 MHz)

Nursing Unit Radiology Room
Emergency Room Operating Room

0.5 2.0 V/m 0.5 3.0 V/m

5.0 10.0 V/m 30.0 V/m (1m from active ESU)

Ad Hoc Testing
Simultaneous learning, test design and test execution. Informal, one time testing with no designed procedures. Flexible, customized procedures for task at hand. Generally exploratory in nature sometimes called Exploratory Testing.

Ad Hoc Testing
Must incorporate reporting procedure Need a method to quantify and compare data collected Test data should be reproducible! Useful for defining formal test procedures.

Electromagnetic Vulnerability

Medical Device Selection Criteria

Electromagnetic Vulnerability

Criticality of the Device

Is it life supporting Critical patient monitoring Diagnostic Medication delivery


Impact of Device Failure

Potential of injury or death to patient Can it cause harm to staff

Electromagnetic Vulnerability

Compliance with applicable EMC Standards

Has the device been tested for EMC by an outside party?


Known EMI Problems with Device

Type of device, model or manufacturer history.


Suspected EMI Problems with Device

Erratic performance of device

Electromagnetic Vulnerability

Sensitive Components or Circuitry

High gain amplifiers, microprocessors, patient leads, any antenna resembling traces


Frequent No Fault Found Repairs

Repeated reported issues with device yet testing reveals no anomalies OR problems disappear when removed from user area

Device Immunity to RF
Hospital devices have conductors of various lengths. Many of these devices are designed to amplify very weak signals. Many of these devices have connecting wires that can act as antennas.

EMI Recognition
Device works in shop but is erratic on floors. Patients condition does not match data provided by device. Intermittent malfunction during certain weather conditions or when transmitter is nearby. Inexplicable alarms