What are medical telemetry devices?

Hospitals and other health care facilities use medical telemetry devices monitor patients' vital signs and other important parameters and transmit this information via radio to a remote location such as a nurses' station. For example, wireless cardiac monitors are often used to monitor patients following surgery. Certain types of medical telemetry devices may be used in the home.

Where can telemetry device users find out what DTV channels have been assigned in their market so they can avoid interference?

Users can call each television station in their market to learn what channels each station will use for digital television service. Alternatively, a listing of current DTV Allotments is listed on the FCC's Website. See a list of DTV stations via the Media Bureau's TV Query tool.

How can DTV stations interfere with medical telemetry device

The FCC has developed a plan where each existing analog TV station is assigned a vacant TV channel to use for digital television service. In some areas of the country, this new DTV assignment may be on a formerly vacant channel that a telemetry device user had chosen for its operations. If the medical telemetry device user continues to operate on this channel, it can receive interference from new DTV transmissions on the same channel.

What can be done if interference does occur?

In most cases, existing medical telemetry devices can be re-turned to operate on a different vacant TV channel. In some cases, current equipment may not have adequate tuning range to move to a vacant channel and may need to be replaced.

What is the FCC doing to educate the industry and the public about this issue?

Interference can be avoided by appropriate planning and exchange of information. The FCC has taken a number of steps to facilitate this process. At the FCC's request, broadcast industry representatives have asked TV stations to contact local health care facilities and inform them of their plans to initiate DTV service. The Commission will also request information from broadcasters to ensure that they have coordinated with health care facilities before beginning their DTV operation.

The FCC has also contacted the manufacturers of medical telemetry devices to ask that they alert existing users of their equipment about potential interference from new DTV operations. The FCC is working with FDA to disseminate appropriate information to the health care industry.

What should medical telemetry device users do about this?

The Commission has previously alerted the manufacturers, installers and users of medical devices through the October 20, 1997 Report and Order, published in the Federal Register at 62 FR 58656, October 30, 1997, that they may need to take action to avoid interference to their operations during the transition to DTV service.

Specifically, they need to learn what DTV channels are being assigned in their market so they can continue to pick a vacant channel for their transmissions. If a medical telemetry device is using a television channel that will not be used for DTV, no further action should be required. If, however, a medical telemetry device is using a television channel that has been assigned for DTV, the user will need to work with their manufacturer and switch to a channel that will not be used for DTV in their area. In those limited instances in which a user has equipment that cannot be re-turned, new devices would have to be obtained to ensure interference-free operation.

Friday, December 18, 2015