February 28, 2006 7:08 AM PST

U.K. may try RFID to stop medical gear theft

The U.K.'s National Health Service is exploring the use of RFID tagging to stop the theft of medical equipment.

In the last 12 months, 11 NHS hospital trusts have reported thefts of diagnostic equipment worth at least $17,000 each.

Health Minister Rosie Winterton said earlier this month that the NHS Security Management Service is "actively exploring the options for making use of new technology to track and trace high-value pieces of NHS equipment."

She said radio frequency ID tags could be used to monitor the whereabouts of such equipment.

A representative for NHS told Silicon.com: "We are actively exploring the options for making use of new radio frequency technology to track and trace high value pieces of NHS equipment."

The representative added that recommendations have been issued to hospitals about ways to best protect vital equipment. These include reviewing security arrangements, using closed-circuit TV, controlling access to the equipment, and ensuring suspicious incidents are reported to security guards.

Steve Ranger of Silicon.com reported from London.

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A question on interfierence
Does or will the RFID tag cause interference with patient medical equiptment?
Posted by phillipeb (16 comments )
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I work in the RFID field and your question is quite important. The answer really depends upon the implementation. Some of the most popular RFID implementations that would be suitable for the tracking they're describing run at the same frequencies as many other wireless devices. You must judge for yourself whether this is very responsible of them, especially considering the flood of radio frequency traffic that can be generated by RFID installs. I won't advertise the company I work for since this is a news forum, but users should be aware that there are very robust, proven, an popular companies that run their equipment at frequencies that are made to avoid the problems you are asking about.

You will find that triangulation generally runs better at the higher frequencies that can interfere with other devices, but there are many very creative and accurate ways of calculating location besides triangulation. In fact, many of these new alternatives give very high resolution and can avoid many of the false movement problems associated with triangulation.
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