Wireless Local Area Networks in Hospitals: Visualization and Quantification of Electromagnetic Interference Risk

I.E. Abdalla, B. Segal, and C.W. Trueman (Canada)


Electromagnetic interference, wireless local area network, healthcare, electromagnetic compatibility, wireless informatics


Wireless informatics systems such as a wireless local area network (WLAN) have the potential to reduce medical errors and improve the quality of healthcare delivery. With wireless informatics comes the concern that electromagnetic interference (EMI) from radio-frequency (RF) sources might cause critical-care medical devices to malfunction, threatening a patient’s life. To ensure patient safety, many hospitals ban wireless RF sources. To reap the benefits of wireless informatics, there is a need for EMI risk quantification. This paper examines various EMI risk models, and their applicability and limitations for WLAN planning in hospitals. A new EMI risk model quantifies EMI risk as a function of the separation distance between an RF source and a medical device. EMI risk models should become a part of a hospital’s WLAN planning and operation to maximize patient safety by ensuring electromagnetic compatibility.

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