March 11, 2007

Cell phones safe to use in hospitals: U.S. study

Calls made on cell phones do not affect hospital medical devices, U.S. researchers said on Friday, but store anti-theft alarms might make implanted heart devices misfire.

Tests at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota showed normal use of cell phones, also called mobile phones, caused no noticeable interference with patient care equipment, they said.

But a portable CD player caused an abnormal electrocardiographic (ECG) reading when a patient used it near one of the leads of the device, according to one of several reports in the March issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Most hospitals forbid the use of cell phones.Dr. David Hayes and colleagues said their tests suggest the ban is unmerited. They tested cell phones using two different technologies from different carriers, switching them on near 192 different medical devices. 300 tests run over five months, they reported no trouble with the equipment.

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