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Mobile Phone Medical Equipment Warning - Phone Interference Caused Death Hoax

Outline
Warning message claims that a four year old child died in hospital during a minor operation due to interference from a mobile phone used outside the operating theatre.



Brief Analysis
The claim that a child died due to mobile phone interference with medical equipment is untrue. There is no credible evidence that supports this claim. While the use of mobile phones may cause interference with medical equipment under some circumstances, no deaths have been reported as a result of such interference.

Detailed analysis and references below example.
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Last updated: 26th November 2010
First published: 12th August 2003
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer


Example:
Subject: Read it plz...

REAL INCIDENT.... READ N PASS.. VERY IMPORTANT... ....

This is a real incident that happened in a local hospital in Bangalore , India . A 4 year old girl was admitted due to leg fracture. As it was an open fracture, she had to undergo an operation

to stitch the protruding bone back in place. Though it was quite a minor operation, she was hooked on to life support system, as a part of the process.

The doctors had to input some data prior to the operation to suit different conditions. Thereafter, the operation proceeded. Half way through the process, the life support system suddenly went dead.

The culprit : -
Some one was using his/her hand-phone outside the operation theatre.. And the frequency had affected the system.. They tried to track the person, but to no avail. The little girl, young and innocent as she was, died soon after.

Be compassionate! Do not use your hand phone / mobiles especially at any hospitals or within the Aircraft or any places where you are told not to use it... You might not be caught in the act, but you might have killed someone without knowledge.

Please pass this to as many, since most of us are just not aware of the seriousness of this issue.
Please Don't Delete. Please Send this to all your contacts and help save a life..

Last Word:
Please avoid using your mobile phones in hospitals, near OT areas / petrol pumps / aircraft etc ... wherever it is mentioned no use of mobiles, go by the rules, it's a matter of life & death.

A tiny mail can save a life




Detailed Analysis
According to this widely circulated cautionary tale, which circulates via email, blogs and social networks, a young child died during a minor operation because of interference caused by a mobile phone call. The message claims that, when an unthinking person made a mobile phone call outside the operating theatre, interference from the call shut down vital life support equipment and the four year old subsequently died as a result. Versions of the message have been circulating since 2003. While earlier versions did not specify a location where the incident supposedly took place, more recent variants claim\ that the death occurred at a hospital in Bangalore, India.

It is possible, under certain circumstances, for mobile phone use to cause interference with medical equipment. However, the claim in the warning that a child died as a result of mobile phone interference is untrue. Although there is a great deal of information about the possible detrimental impact of mobile phones in a medical environment, there are no credible reports whatsoever that support the claim that any person has ever died as result of such interference. Thus, the specific incident described in the warning appears to be fictional and was perhaps made up simply as a means of illustrating a point.

In fact, the possibility that electromagnetic interference from mobile phones could disrupt sensitive medical equipment and thereby have a negative impact on the health and care of patients has long been of real concern to the medical profession. And, certainly, a number of relatively minor and non-life threatening interference incidents have been reported in the past . To that end, many hospitals and medical clinics around the world have taken steps to restrict use of mobile phones in their facilities, at least in sensitive or critical areas.

While the perceived risk was always considered fairly small, it shrank even further after a Mayo Clinic study in 2007 found that normal mobile phone use did not interfere with medical equipment in any noticeable way. A 2009 ABC news article on the issue notes:
In 2007, researchers at the Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic published one of the first reports to dispel the widespread notion that cell phones negatively affect patient care equipment.

Previous tests in 1997 and 2000 found that cell phones, especially older analog phones, could interfere with heart monitoring equipment and other sensitive medical instruments. In one case, a cell phone signal caused a ventilator to shut off.

But the most recent tests, on medical equipment better shielded against interference from wireless communication devices, showed researchers that the threat had dimmed.

In five months, the researchers performed 300 tests in patient rooms and determined that the normal use of cell phones resulted in no noticeable interference with medical equipment.
As a result of the Mayo Clinic study, some medical institutions have relaxed restrictions placed on mobile phone use. That said, however, other medical experts maintain that the Mayo Clinic study may not have been comprehensive enough and argue that, even if the risk is minimal, the possibility is nevertheless real and mobile phone restrictions should remain in place. And many hospitals and clinics still enforce mobile phone restrictions via signage and verbal warnings.

Thus, the core advice in the message - that people should turn off mobile phones in areas where they are instructed to do so - is still valid and worth heeding. Even though the risk of actually causing disruption to medical equipment may be very small, users should still obey any restrictions placed on mobile phone use by the medical institution that they are attending.

Unfortunately, embellishing the valid advice contained at the core of the message by falsely claiming that a child has actually died as a result of mobile phone interference is unnecessary and all but destroys the credibility and legitimacy of the message.

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References
Hospital Equipment Unaffected By Cell Phone Use, Study Finds
The Cell Phone Will See You Now

Last updated: 26th November 2010
First published: 12th August 2003
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer