Page 1 of 3
Administrative (Non-Clinical) Policy
UWHC only (Hospital Administrative-entity wide) UWMF only (entity wide)
UWHC Departmental (indicate name) UWMF Departmental (indicate name)
UWHC and UWMF (shared)
Policy Title: Use of Wireless Communications and Control Devices
(Electromagnetic Interference (EMI))
Policy Number: 12.23
Effective Date: July 1, 2015
Chapter: Environmental Safety
The elimination of electromagnetic interference (EMI) to UWHC patient care equipment by restricting
the use of wireless communications and control devices that demonstrate adverse effects in the patient
During equipment orientation, all UWHC staff will be trained in the general recognition and elimination
of interference from radio emitting devices and remote controls. If staff works with equipment that may
cause interference or is extremely susceptible to interference, the orientation will also cover recognition
and elimination of interference with equipment used in their specific work environment. Incidents of EMI
interference with patient care equipment should be reported to Clinical Engineering at 608-263-5208.
Clinical Engineering will investigate the situation and determine (if possible) the source of the
interference. Continued use of devices demonstrated to be a cause of interference is prohibited.
Clinical Engineering will maintain a database of frequencies currently being used by UWHC. Those
interested in using a radio emitting device within UWHC on a regular basis should consult this database
prior to purchase or use. It is available by contacting Clinical Engineering at 608-263-5208
The Purchasing Department will insure that Clinical Engineering and Telecommunications approve all
new wireless communications and control devices. Clinical Engineering can provide assistance with
determination of potential conflicts with patient care equipment and existing wireless devices. In addition,
Clinical Engineering can provide and review specifications for new wireless equipment.
A. Most clinical equipment is designed to be shielded from the adverse effects of unwanted radio
emissions. However, some devices, when operated within a relatively short distance of patient
care equipment, can cause noise in diagnostic information or undesired changes in operation.
These devices include but are not limited to:
1. Cellular and cordless telephones.
Page 2 of 3
2. Personal devices, tablets, or readers that have wireless capabilities.
3. Bluetooth wireless devices.
4. Citizens Band (CB) radios including walkie-talkies and other personal communication
devices in the general mobile radio services (GMRS) frequency range.
5. Amateur radio transceivers where the actual point of radiation (antenna) is within the
6. Devices and games operated by remote control.
B. Due to a minor risk of interference from cell phones, it is recommended that a distance of at least
three (3) feet must be maintained when operating a cell phone near clinical equipment and
antenna systems. It is also recommended that cell phones be powered off when carried into highly
instrumented clinical areas (critical care units, emergency room, diagnostic imaging, and clinical
laboratories). Testing conducted by ECRI (Emergency Care Research Institute) shows that most
patient care equipment will operate safely if cell phone and other low level radio transmitting
devices are kept at least three (3) feet from the equipment. (See Reference)
C. Walkie-talkie and FRS (Family Radio Service) radios have been shown to cause interference
when used at distances of less than twenty to twenty-five (20-25) feet from clinical equipment
and antenna systems. Therefore, a minimum distance of twenty (20) feet must be maintained
away from clinical equipment and antenna systems when transmitting on a walkie-talkie or FRS
radio. Walkie-talkie and FRS radios can safely be operated in 'listen' mode near clinical
equipment, however, except for emergencies the radio should be moved at least 20 feet away
D. When an activated device causes interference with clinical equipment, UWHC staff should
instruct the owner to immediately discontinue the use of their device or move it to a location far
enough away to eliminate the interference.
E. Hospital personnel should constantly be alert to the introduction of equipment that may adversely
affect clinical equipment. When interference is noted, all local radio emitting and remote control
equipment should be suspect. Users of the interfering equipment should be told to discontinue use
of their equipment.
F. Radio devices, furnished by UWHC, must be used within the guidelines established by the
engineering and telecommunications departments. Staff who are issued radio equipment should
be trained in the proper use of the equipment and to be on the lookout for interference with
patient care equipment. The Clinical Engineering department will provide training.
G. Contractors, who will be using devices emitting radio frequencies, should contact the Clinical
Engineering department prior to beginning work within UWHC facilities to have their equipment
evaluated for possible of interference with medical equipment.
H. Use of non-cellular two-way radios (walkie-talkies, FRS, etc.) is prohibited by patients and
I. Continued use of devices demonstrated to interfere with clinical equipment is prohibited.
Guidance Article: Cell Phones and Electromagnetic Interference Revisited, Health Devices, pages 449 -
456, December 2006
Sr. Management Sponsor: VP, Facilities & Support Services
Authors: Director, Life Safety
Approval Committee(s): Environment of Care Safety Committee, Administrative Policy and Procedure
Page 3 of 3
President & CEO
Previous revision: 072012
Next revision: 072018