The Associated Press recently reported that hospitals and medical device makers are warning that the use of unoccupied television airwaves for high-speed Internet service could interfere with medical devices and disrupt the monitoring of patients' heart rates, blood oxygen levels and other vital signs. Specifically, medical device maker GE Healthcare last week requested that the Federal Communications Commission proceed carefully with its decision to allow broadband use in the idle TV channels ("white spaces"). GE asked the FCC for stricter standards to protect wireless patient-monitoring equipment from being affected by other equipment. In light of the issue, the FCC is conducting tests to determine an efficient way to use the spectrum for broadband without interference, however the AP reports that a number of trial devices have broken down or failed. The FCC in 2000 allocated channel 37 exclusively for medical monitoring equipment in response to a 1998 incident in which a TV broadcaster interfered with a hospital's low-powered heart monitors. Prior to 2000, hospitals had used other channels to operate unlicensed wireless patient-monitoring devices. Despite the change, however, some hospitals still operate outside the protected channel. Preceding this week’s filing, GE Healthcare had called on FCC to prohibit any operation within channels 33 to 36 until February 2010 to give hospitals more time to migrate to the new protected channel, according to one official. Moreover, he said that unlicensed, portable Internet devices operating in empty channels next to the channel dedicated for medical devices may be too powerful and "overload" hospital systems, which typically emit weaker wireless signals (Sarkar, AP/Chicago Tribune, 5/13/08).