Spending your stay in the sickbed dialing friends and family? Might want to relocate before you end up prolonging your stay. In an article published today in Critical Care, Dutch researchers write that, at short distances, electromagnetic interference from cellphones can cause disruption of critical care equipment.
The damage ranged from the mild (disturbing the display on a monitor), to the dangerous—switching off a ventilator, in one instance. And while interference occurred at a median distance of about an inch, problems happened even when the phones were over three feet away from their electronic victim.
Before you freak out and chuck your phone in the nearest bedpan, though, it's worth noting that the two types of signals the scientists tested, General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) and Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS), aren't used by most American phones. Still, whatever your feelings about the metric system, it can't hurt to adhere to their recommended "one meter rule."—Abby Seiff