Statement on FCC Decision to Allow Unlicensed Devices in Dedicated Health Care Spectrum
EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT
AMERICAN HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION
August 6, 2015
Patients receive excellent care in hospitals because of the skilled caregivers, but there is also behind-the-scenes technology that works in concert to deliver quality care to patients. That’s why we are deeply concerned by today’s decision by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to allow unlicensed devices to use the same health care spectrum as patient monitors.
We believe that the technical rules adopted today by the FCC, which would allow unlicensed devices to operate in relatively close geographic proximity on the same frequency as hospitals’ Wireless Medical Telemetry System (WMTS), is not in the best interest of patients. These unlicensed devices may cause interference with wireless monitoring, preventing doctors and nurses from receiving vital information. There are more than 360,000 WMTS patient monitors in hospitals today, many of which are used for women and infants during labor and delivery and critical heart surgery patients.
The AHA, in addition to many Members of Congress, requested a delay in FCC action to allow hospitals more time to work cooperatively with the unlicensed device community to create a compromise that protects patients. The FCC did not grant this delay. The FCC did allow for an increased buffer, as advocated by Commissioner Pai; however, the commission ignored technical considerations in setting the distance and will require each hospital to demonstrate that larger protection zones are necessary. Many hospitals do not have the staff expertise and resources to comply with this technical rule.
We remain highly concerned that if the rules adopted today are left unchanged, patient safety could be compromised. We will continue to work with Congress, the FCC and device developers to seek a remedy that puts patients first.
About the AHA
The AHA is a not-for-profit association of health care provider organizations and individuals that are committed to the health improvement of their communities. The AHA is the national advocate for its members, which include nearly 5,000 hospitals, health care systems, networks, other providers of care and 43,000 individual members. Founded in 1898, the AHA provides education for health care leaders and is a source of information on health care issues and trends. For more information, visit the AHA website at www.aha.org.
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