Action needed to protect patient monitoring

May 5, 2015

ASHE Senior Executive Director Dale Woodin, CHFM, FASHE, is urging all ASHE members to contact the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to ask them to protect wireless patient monitoring devices from harmful interference. Woodin said a proposal the FCC is considering may be the biggest challenge hospitals have faced in wireless patient monitoring. Although the immediate issue affects hospitals that use the WMTS spectrum space (Channel 37), the FCC is moving to share all spectrum space, so its decision on this issue is expected to affect all hospitals using wireless telemetry devices.

For years, hospitals have used wireless patient monitoring devices registered with the wireless medical telemetry system (WMTS). The FCC has long protected spectrum space for WMTS devices, but pressure is mounting for the FCC to allow this space to be shared with other devices. A coalition of companies seeking expanded broadband access across the country wants the FCC to open spectrum space previously reserved for only patient monitoring devices. This pressure is building to share space, Woodin said, and hospitals must speak up soon to urge the FCC to prioritize the patient care over other interests.

Sharing spectrum space could cause interference with patient monitoring at every hospital using WMTS devices, Woodin said. For example, fetal monitoring devices are a common way to check the heartrate of an unborn baby. If interference suddenly jumbles that signal, doctors and nurses would lose the ability to remotely monitor that vital information.

. Although the immediate issue affects hospitals that use the WMTS spectrum space (Channel 37), the FCC is moving to share all spectrum space, so its decision on this issue is expected to affect all hospitals using wireless telemetry devices.

“We’re talking about protecting our patients,” Woodin said. “This is absolutely critical.”

Woodin is urging all hospitals to write a letter to the FCC about this issue. ASHE has created a template and has posted instructions on how to fill out the letter (you can access those forms and read more background on this issue here). Giving the FCC information about our hospitals will help explain the issue and drive home the importance of this issue, Woodin said. The FCC could make a decision on the issue as early as the end of this month. Woodin urged members to submit their letters as soon as possible.

Action needed:

  • Fill out the letter on your hospital’s letterhead and send to FCC (please send a copy of the letter to Dale Woodin via e-mail at dwoodin@aha.org)
  • For more information on this issue, continue watching ASHE newsletters for updates and additional information.

Download Form Letter >> Download the Form Letter Instructions >>