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Millions of iPhones could put medical device patients at risk

Posted February 11, 2021 1:14 p.m. EST
Updated February 11, 2021 6:01 p.m. EST

Apple is warning millions of iPhone 12 users that the phone could hinder medical devices. The company said the magnets in all iPhone 12 models "may interfere" with pacemakers and implanted defibrillators.

Cardiologists at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit tested the power of the magnets themselves, thinking it would not be an issue.

However, Dr. Gurgit Sing said, they were "quite surprised with the findings."

The team recruited a defibrillator patient who agreed to help with their study.

"We brought the iPhone pretty close to the chest," says Singh. "We kept it on the patient’s defibrillator, over the skin and the dressing, and we immediately discovered that the iPhone had deactivated the defibrillator "

When the phone was removed, the defibrillator started working again. With pacemakers, Singh said he's concerned the phone could impact the rhythm.

While previous iPhone models have magnets, Apple said the four iPhone 12 models have even more, making them more powerful.

So what should you do?

Apple said to keep the phones at least six inches from medical devices. So, don’t have it in a shirt pocket if you have a defibrillator or pacemaker.

For the same reason, Apple also flagged the popular MagSafe wireless chargers, saying to keep those 12 inches from medical devices when charging.

Apple added that people shouldn't use the MagSafe charger with a case that holds credit cards, security badges, passports or key fobs since it could damage the magnetic strips or RFID chips.

Apple issued its warning after the health experts published their findings.

The FDA is also looking at the findings and implications.

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