The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is expected to vote this fall on whether to approve the sharing of radio-frequency spectrum between the aviation industry and hospitals that may utilize the Medical Body Area Network (MBAN) to monitor patients wirelessly.

The American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) will coordinate the projected use of MBAN for patients so it does not interfere with radio frequency now used exclusively in aviation test flights.

MBAN would allow the vital signs of hospital patients wearing special sensors to be monitored wirelessly. MBAN may expand to monitor patients at home.

ASHE's role would be to ensure that hospitals operating in the frequency band approved for MBAN use are included in a database, says John T. Collins, FASHE, HFDP, director, engineering and compliance, ASHE.

Hospitals that want to use MBAN devices first would register with ASHE. "Our technical partner Comsearch would analyze the request to ensure that the transmitters would not interfere with specific flight-test areas," says Collins.

GE Healthcare and Royal Philips Electronics, which are developing wireless medical devices, and several aerospace companies have agreed on a plan for sharing radio frequency.