Radio-Wave Devices May Pose Danger to Users of Medical Equipment
Radio frequency identification devices may interfere with medical equipment, jeopardizing patients who rely on the hardware, a new study reports. RFID devices are used in IV pumps and respirators, for example, to help locate and track inventory; they can also be put into drug blister packs to prevent counterfeiting and are used to ensure the quality of blood products. Researchers examined electromagnetic interference on medical devices when these devices are nearby. They found that in some cases, the presence of the devices led to the turning off of a mechanical ventilator, caused the malfunction of external pacemakers, or resulted in inaccurate blood pressure readings. (The study, reported in the June 25 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, was done in a lab; no patients were involved.) Still, the scope of the danger is unclear and needs further study, the authors report.
Follow hospitals' efforts to improve patient care and quality in Avery Comarow's On Quality blog.
More on Vitamin D and the Sun
The sun, which promotes vitamin D production, offers a host of health benefits, Deborah Kotz reports. In fact, some experts now believe that the sun's rays provide more benefit than harm—as long as you get the right dose. Even dermatologists, who worry about the sun's ravaging effects on the skin in the form of cancer, age spots, and wrinkles, acknowledge that we could all use a little sun exposure. Yesterday, Kotz provided advice from an expert on getting enough vitamin D.
How Hospitals Treat Women
Yesterday, HealthGrades.com, which rates individual hospitals on an assortment of relatively routine procedures such as heart bypass surgery and C-sections, issued its fifth annual report on how well hospitals treat women when they give birth and when they have heart disease, Avery Comarow reports. As in previous years, the report shows a gap between top-performing hospitals and those at the bottom in complications following vaginal and C-section births and in deaths following cardiovascular procedures such as bypass surgery and stent insertion.
Teen Pregnancy Pact in Question
Did 17 pregnant teenage girls from Gloucester, Mass., really have a pregnancy pact? This week, Carolyn Kirk, the mayor of Gloucester, said she couldn't confirm that these girls really intended to get pregnant, Deborah Kotz reports. One of the pregnant high school students, Lindsey Oliver, said on ABC's Good Morning America yesterday that "there definitely was no pact." She said the girls banded together to help one another after they found out each was expecting.
—January W. Payne