The FDA issued a public health notification
on the risk of electromagnetic interference (EMI) with medical
telemetry systems still operating in the 460-470 Mhz frequency bands.

This is to notify you that after December 31, 2005, any medical telemetry systems
operating in the 460-470 MHz frequency bands will be at increased risk for interference,
which could compromise patient safety. In January 2006 the Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) will begin issuing new licenses for mobile radio transmitters
to operate in the 460-470 MHz band.

The feds have delayed the issuance of new land mobile licenses a number of times since
2000 when WMTS was created and the 460-470 MHz band was designated for
commercial use in dispatch and field service applications. Based on
recent posts to the Biomed Listserv,
there's still plenty of hospitals out there running on the old
frequency - some of them appear (from their posts) to be seriously
considering delaying their move off 460-470 until some time after the
FCC lifts their freeze.

Here's my take on the FDA recommendations:

  1. Identify if your telemetry is on the old frequencies (you know who you are)
  2. Move
    off the 460-470 MHz band by December 31, 2005 - either get your system
    re crystaled to WMTS (the quickest and cheapest, although I believe
    that Philips - and maybe others - have discontinued selling upgrades)
    or get a completely new system
  3. You have two main alternatives: a proprietary infrastructure based on WMTS, or a system using ISM (more on that here)
  4. If you use WMTS, you should register your WMTS equipment with the
    American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) - ISM requires no
  5. Be sure to check which digital TV channels are in your local markets (there's a list here) as they can impact any use of WMTS. Last summer the FCC ordered most major commercial broadcasters in
    the top 100 markets to operate their Digital TV (DTV) transmitters at their
    maximum licensed power. (You can read more on WMTS/TV station interference here.)

[Hat tip: Tom Quinn on the Biomed Listserv]