An investigation into the feasibility of locating portable medical devices using radio frequency identification devices and technology

J Med Eng Technol. 2007 Nov-Dec;31(6):450-8. doi: 10.1080/03091900701292141.


Background and purpose: Portable medical devices represent an important resource for assisting healthcare delivery. The movement of portable devices often results in them being unavailable when needed. Tracking equipment using radiofrequency identification technology/devices (RFID) may provide a promising solution to the problems encountered in locating portable equipment.

Methods: An RFID technology trial was undertaken at Royal Alexandra Hospital, Paisley. This involved the temporary installation of three active readers and attaching actively transmitting radio frequency tags to different portable medical devices. The active readers and computer system were linked using a bespoke data network. Tags and readers from two separate manufacturers were tested.

Results: Reliability difficulties were encountered when testing the technology from the first manufacturer, probably due to the casing of the medical device interfering with the signal from the tag. Improved results were obtained when using equipment from the second manufacturer with an overall error rate of 12.3%. Tags from this manufacturer were specifically designed to overcome problems observed with the first system tested.

Conclusions: Findings from this proof of concept trial suggest that RFID technology could be used to track the location of equipment in a hospital.

MeSH terms

  • Biotechnology / instrumentation*
  • Biotechnology / methods
  • Equipment and Supplies*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Product Labeling / instrumentation*
  • Product Labeling / methods
  • Radio Waves
  • Telemetry / instrumentation*
  • Telemetry / methods