I was wondering why Dr. Sanjay Gupta was waving his phone in my face this morning as I sweated to the oldies at my local YMCA.
Here's why. A Dutch study shows radiation from data-enabled cell phones can interfere with critical hospital equipment from as far away as 3 meters -- that's 10 feet.
The research team examined the effects of General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) and Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) signals on critical care equipment such as ventilators and pacemakers. Almost 50 EMI incidents were recorded; 75% were significant or hazardous. Hazardous incidents varied from a total switch off and restart of mechanical ventilator and complete stops without alarms in syringe pumps to incorrect pulsing by an external pacemaker.
Most of the problems came from second-generation GPRS gear. Only 13% of the problems came from UMTS gear.
While fans of data phones much prefer faster UMTS models, popular GPRS phones include the HP iPaq and several Nokia models. If your carrier runs under the GSM standard, like T-Mobile chances are your data phone is GPRS. U.S. Here's a complete list of U.S. based GSM carriers.
While we're talking about just one study, and one type of phone, many hospitals already ban cell phone use. It's easy to see this halting recent moves to lift those restrictions.
But we're only talking here about one type of data phone. Newer data phones, and voice phones, don't cause problems. So, should cell phones be totally banned from all hospitals? And what about medical offices in general? [poll id=4]