Some doctors laud as a lifesaver a heart-monitoring device that faxes information directly to a physician’s office from anywhere in the world.
Some doctors laud as a lifesaver a heart-monitoring device that faxes information directly to a physician’s office from anywhere in the world. Federal regulators, however, worry the portable messenger could pose a danger to patients. The Federal Communications Commission banned the device earlier this year, fearing it could further clog airwaves already crowded with transmissions from high-tech medical gadgets. The German-based manufacturer, Biotronik, has appealed the ruling, which allowed the 3,000 patients already outfitted with the device to continue using it. “This information has potentially lifesaving consequences. Why should we be denied access to this information?” said Dr. Allistar Fyfe, a Dallas cardiologist who has about a dozen patients using the portable messenger. The portable messenger uses technology similar to a cell phone and works along with a special pacemaker that sends signals to the messenger. The device, worn like a pager on a waistband or belt, then transmits patient information to doctors. Doctors can program the device to monitor specific heart activity and send reports periodically. Patients can also trigger transmission if they feel something is wrong. Biotronik said the device costs about $8,000. Despite praise from doctors and approval from the Food and Drug Administration, a competitor that makes a similar device, Minneapolis-based Medtronic, claimed signals from the Biotronik device violate federal rules, which stipulate that a device must make sure it’s on an open frequency before transmitting. It was a complaint laid by Medtronic that led to the FCC ruling in February. Biotronik insists that the guidlines in place are strictly adhered to.(Source: The Associated Press, CNN Health News, Dec 2003)