Fatal collision? Are wireless headsets a risk in treating patients?

Electromagn Biol Med. 2018;37(2):95-99. doi: 10.1080/15368378.2017.1422261. Epub 2018 Feb 5.


Wireless-enabled headsets that connect to the internet can provide remote transcribing of patient examination notes. Audio and video can be captured and transmitted by wireless signals sent from the computer screen in the frame of the glasses. But using wireless glass-type devices can expose the user to a specific absorption rates (SAR) of 1.11-1.46 W/kg of radiofrequency radiation. That RF intensity is as high as or higher than RF emissions of some cell phones. Prolonged use of cell phones used ipsilaterally at the head has been associated with statistically significant increased risk of glioma and acoustic neuroma. Using wireless glasses for extended periods to teach, to perform surgery, or conduct patient exams will expose the medical professional to similar RF exposures which may impair brain performance, cognition and judgment, concentration and attention and increase the risk for brain tumors. The quality of medical care may be compromised by extended use of wireless-embedded devices in health care settings. Both medical professionals and their patients should know the risks of such devices and have a choice about allowing their use during patient exams. Transmission of sensitive patient data over wireless networks may increase the risk of hacking and security breaches leading to losses of private patient medical and financial data that are strictly protected under HIPPA health information privacy laws.

Keywords: HIPPA patient privacy; Wearable wireless headsets; disorientation; health risks; impaired attention and concentration; inattention blindness; medical professionals; performance; radiofrequency radiation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology
  • Brain / radiation effects
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Radiation Exposure / adverse effects
  • Radio Waves / adverse effects*
  • Risk
  • Wireless Technology / instrumentation*