Tuesday, February 25, 2014

TSA Travel Tips Tuesday: Traveling With Personal Medical Electronic Devices

Many travelers rely on personal medical electronic devices (PMEDs) (pacemakers, neurostimulators, implantable cardio defibrillators, insulin pumps, blood glucose monitors, etc.), so it’s understandable that there may be concerns prior to traveling through a TSA checkpoint. I hope to help alleviate some of those concerns with today’s TSA travel tips.

First off, if a passenger has a PMED, the passenger should know that he/she is not alone. Our officers encounter individuals with PMEDs daily at TSA checkpoints and are trained on proper screening procedures. If a passenger has a PMED, it is important to inform the officer conducting the screening before the screening process begins. A passenger can use TSA’s Notification Card to communicate discreetly with security officers. However, showing this card or other medical documentation will not exempt a passenger from additional screening when necessary.

Walk Through Metal Detectors: Passengers who have a PMED should not be screened by a metal detector and should instead request to be screened by imaging technology or a pat-down.

Advanced Imaging Technology: Millimeter wave scanners are safe to use if you have a pacemaker or other PMED.
From the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) (PDF 10.5 MB)  “CDRH studied the risks of both spurious emissions and electromagnetic interference (EMI) on several types of PMEDs exposed to the emissions from an AIT security system. Using a millimeter wave exposure simulator and an L-3 ProVision system, CDRH performed a risk assessment for potential EMI effects on a range of PMEDs (including pacemakers, neurostimulators, implantable cardio defibrillators, insulin pumps and blood glucose monitors).  No effects were observed for any PMEDs exposed to the mmW AIT-1, and the CDRH concluded that the risks for the non-ionizing, millimeter wave and out of band emissions to disrupt the function of the selected PMEDs is very low.”

Insulin Pump
Insulin Pump (Photo Courtesy of Energy.gov)
Insulin Pumps: If a passenger uses an insulin pump, the passenger can be screened without disconnecting from the pump. Passengers who have insulin pumps can be screened using millimeter wave imaging technology, metal detector, or a thorough pat-down. Regardless of whether the passenger is screened using imaging technology or metal detector, the passenger’s insulin pump is subject to additional screening. Under most circumstances, this will include the passenger conducting a self pat-down of the insulin pump followed by an explosive trace detection sampling of the hands.

TSA Cares Hotline: Passengers with questions are encouraged to contact the TSA Cares Help Line. TSA Cares is a help line to assist travelers with disabilities and medical conditions. TSA recommends that passengers call 72 hours ahead of travel for information about what to expect during screening. Travelers may call TSA Cares toll free at 1-855-787-2227 prior to traveling with questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint. TSA Cares will serve as an additional, dedicated resource specifically for passengers with disabilities, medical conditions or other circumstances or their loved ones who want to prepare for the screening process prior to flying. 

Passenger Support Specialist: Travelers may also request a Passenger Support Specialist ahead of time by calling the TSA Cares hotline at 1-855-787-2227.

The hours of operation for the TSA Cares help line are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 11 p.m. EST and weekends and Holidays 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. EST. Travelers who are deaf or hard of hearing can use a relay service to contact TSA Cares or can e-mail TSA-ContactCenter@dhs.gov.

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27 comments:

RB said...

Medtronics advises their insulin pump users (and other associated electronics) not to use airport body scanning devices other than WTMD's.

I don't know what other people think but I for one cannot trust TSA PR people to be honest or up to date on all the various medical devices on the market.

In fact it seems to me that this thread crosses the line. What medical professional signed off on this article?

When did the blog team get medical credentials to dispenses medical advice?

I suggest that users of these devices follow directions from "real" healthcare professionals and ignore the unqualified ramblings of TSA and its employees.

Debbie McKnight said...

Are there any requisites when traveling with a hip or knee replacement? Thank you.

Insulin Pump User said...

My insulin pump manufacturer tells me not to go through the body scanners with my my pump. I tend to believe that they know what the pump can or cannot handle instead of the screeners at the airport. I don't know what medical qualifications the screeners have but they sure seem to like giving out medical advice. Almost every time I fly, I get lectured and bullied into going through the body scanner. I refuse and force them to give me the patdown. It is very frustrating to be told that my pump manufacturer and my doctor are lying about the risk to my pump. The only good thing about the patdowns now is that they don't seem to touch my genitals anymore. They still seem obsessed with my 1/2" long hair though.

I accept the fact that I will get a patdown and the ETD swab. How can you continue to use such a flawed test as the ETD swab since it alarms on common household chemicals and road salt. Also, if I alarm the ETD test at the checkpoint, why can't I have the further inspection at the checkpoint. You aren't doing anything secret. The next patdown is more thorough but is not a strip search. Is the TSA embarrassed to conduct the more thorough patdown in public. How many explosives have you found with the ETD swab in relation to the false positives due to soap, lotion, etc.

Anonymous said...

Many (All?) insulin pump manufacturers do not recommend wearers to go through MMW scanners. Why do you not note this?

Why must people who've been through medical procedures be treated more severely, more suspiciously than "normal" people?

Why does the TSA (and DHS) want to discourage people with medical devices from traveling?

RB said...

Dr. Blogger Bob Gives Bad Advice

From Medtronics:

"Insulin Pumps, Personal CGM and Security

You can continue to wear your insulin pump or continuous glucose monitor (CGM) while going through common security systems such as an airport metal detector as it will not harm the device or trigger an alarm. Do not send the devices through the x-ray machine as an alternative

You need to remove your insulin pump and CGM (sensor and transmitter) while going through an airport body scanner. If you do not wish to remove your devices, you may request an alternative pat-down screening process

Notify security screeners that you have diabetes, that you are wearing an insulin pump and are carrying supplies with you."

Medtronics Interference chart

The link above brings up an interference chart for Medtronics devices. Apparently Dr. Blogger Bob didn't consult any manufacturers of these devices before posting his article full of bad and likely dangerous advice.

For anyone foolish enough to follow TSA advice be sure to send all bills for damaged equipment to the attention of Dr. Blogger Bob Burns, TSA.

Copy provided to DHS OIG since the content of the TSA article is possibly illegal medical advice from an unqualified TSA employee.

Debbie Kaufman said...

First of all, let me say that the vast majority of my experiences with TSA have been very positive. Although I have encountered agents who didn't know my medical equipment, all but one was professional and accepting of my need for a pat down. I have also noticed an increase in the number of agents who do seem familiar with the equipment, and I find that encouraging.

However, I do believe that quoting this study about safety with medical devices in this article could be misleading. Both the manufacturers of my insulin pump and my continuous glucose sensor state specifically that their equipment is not to go through any of the airport scanners. Those of us with insulin pumps still remember the national news report with the teenager pressured into the full body scan and whose pump failed shortly thereafter. A cautionary tale, for sure.

Until the people who make the devices tell me otherwise, I'll be opting for the pat down, even though I would love the more convenient regular screening or the ability to be a "known traveler."

So, thank you for the increased training/awareness that I am starting to see, and keep reminding your agents that they are not medical professionals. But, for now, my favorite phrase will remain, "opt-out."

Anonymous said...

Oh, by all means walk through the strip-search scanners so your $10,000 insulin pump can be destroyed, as it was for 16-year-old Savannah Barry in Salt Lake City.

Or risk having the geniuses at the checkpoint mistake an insulin pump for a gun, as they did at LAX in 2012, delaying and detaining passengers and chasing after the innocent woman.

Because clearly TSA clerks have thorough medical knowledge. So by all means trust them. And if all else fails, they can always grope your genitals. To keep you safe, of course.

screenshot taken/DHS OIG statement

Anonymous said...

Now that your colleagues have finished their medical training, maybe next they can take up some geography?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/dc-resident-tsa-agent-questions-if-dc-license-legal-for-airline-flight-boarding/2014/02/26/b0855538-9e77-11e3-9ba6-800d1192d08b_allComments.html?ctab=all_&

Should we be concerned that the fine men and women of the TSA, who are all that stand in the way of us being blown to smithereens, don't know that Washington, DC is in the US?

Anonymous said...

A lot of what TSA does is to instill fear in the public. A government that is feared by its people is a government that will remain in control. We need only look at the riots world-wide to see what happens to governments out-of-control. So let us get with the program and keep America safe.

Do what your government leaders tell you. If there is a discrepancy between what medical people and government people tell you then either obey the government people or don't fly until higher government authority changes the rule.

Does any sane individual really want anarchy?

Anonymous said...

Because RB,
that info didnt come from the TSA:
From the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) (PDF 10.5 MB)
Unless of course, you believe that the FDA is in on the whole conspiracy?

Anonymous said...

Sadly, even discussing all of this and the topic of the TSA reinforces the fact that this country has become a nation of sheeple...

Anonymous said...

Here is a link to Medtronic's Airport Information Card

https://www.medtronicdiabetes.com/sites/default/files/library/download-library/workbooks/x23_airport_card.pdf

It states in part,

" If you choose to go through a full body scanner, you must remove
your insulin pump and CGM(sensor
and transmitter)."

Anonymous said...

If the body scanners can destroy insulin pumps, imagine what they are doing to our cells, tissues, DNA, and all the other fragile things that humans are made of!

Anonymous said...

And the TSA shoots itself in the foot again. Who are we going to trust more -- the designers of the equipment that our lives depend on and the physicians who understand how the equipment work, or some faceless TSA bureaucrat who does not have any medical training what so ever. If a TSO, and the TSA in general, wants to get sued until the end of time, just make one of those insulin pumps malfunction. Just one. HIPPA lawyers are going to get so rich off of the TSA.

Anonymous said...

Too much allowance on this site for seditious points of view. This, being a government operated site should support government policies.

Anonymous said...

I have a question: Were your comments reviewed by qualified, licensed medical and healthcare providers? Or by the medical device manufacturers? I do not believe you, as blog moderators, are qualified and licensed medical professionals. I join other commenters in noting that the advice dispensed by this TSA is to be given less weight than that of a qualified and licensed medical professional.

RB said...

A few weeks ago West told how postings to the TSA blog are posted in a timely manner rarely no more than 24 hours. Well it's Friday 5 PM CST and nothing since 3 items put up this past Wednesday. Seems TSA can't even rub a simple blog.
.

Anonymous said...

Your delay in approving the above posts is just another example of your inherent dishonesty.

RB said...

Anonymous said...
Too much allowance on this site for seditious points of view. This, being a government operated site should support government policies.

February 28, 2014 at 12:28 PM
.................
So another person who doesn't understand that this blog is funded with tax dollars and censorship of comments is violations of citizens civil rights.

Try reading the United States Constitution Anon.

@SkyWayManAz said...

Is anyone really surprised TSA is ignoring manufacturer’s advice on medical products? Screeners routinely abuse passengers forcing them to walk and stand in violation of their Doctor’s orders. Seems like every time I attempt to discreetly hand the document checker the TSA approved notification card on why I need to opt out of AIT they ask loudly "What is this?" Next the screeners attempt to bully me into AIT anyway. Usually it’s more than one screener doing this. Bob keeps insisting we as passengers have the right to opt out of AIT but is silent on attempts to bully us into it. It has been posted on here numerous times from other passengers they’ve experienced these problems and no response on here. It would be nice if someone in authority at TSA posted words to the effect that this behavior will not be tolerated from screeners and where to complain if you have experienced it. The practice isn't going to end unless screeners are put on notice from the top that it won't be tolerated. Unfortunately offensive rude behavior from screeners is routinely tolerated and dismissed under the guise of random methods or claiming they were merely giving passengers other options. TSA seems averse to using secret shoppers who could confirm some of these abuses discreetly which might avoid bad press later so I’d be surprised if anything really changes.

Anonymous said...

LOL @ TSAnonymous who accuses the flying public of treason for wanting to get on a plane without being molested or robbed by government employees, and those who "dare" to comment on a taxpayer-paid government website.


"Anonymous said...
Too much allowance on this site for seditious points of view. This, being a government operated site should support government policies.

February 28, 2014 at 12:28 PM"

Anonymous said...

"Too much allowance on this site for seditious points of view. This, being a government operated site should support government policies."

You are so out of touch with fundamental American principles that you are surely a U.S. politician.

screenshot

RB said...

How long before Blogger Bob's posts an update stating that he may not have had all needed information before telling people that body scanners are safe for insulin pumps?

This post by TSA is not only bad advice but is potentially dangerous and TSA doesn't seem to have the backbone to acknowledge the errors.

RB said...

Still no correction Bobby?

Must be time to contact DOJ OIG. I think practicing medicine is illegal for the untrained.

GSOLTSO said...

Debbie McKnight asked - "Are there any requisites when traveling with a hip or knee replacement? Thank you."

There are no special pre-requisites for travelling with knee or hip replacements. The best thing to do is to communicate with the TSOs as you go through. The Walk Through Metal Detectors will alarm on hip and knee replacements, so the easiest option for screening would be to use the AIT if it is available where you are departing from. If you choose not to use the AIT, then a pat down would be the method of screening available. I hope this helped you and thanks for posting!

West
TSA Blog Team

Wintermute said...

Blogger GSOLTSO said...
Debbie McKnight asked - "Are there any requisites when traveling with a hip or knee replacement? Thank you."

There are no special pre-requisites for travelling with knee or hip replacements. The best thing to do is to communicate with the TSOs as you go through. The Walk Through Metal Detectors will alarm on hip and knee replacements, so the easiest option for screening would be to use the AIT if it is available where you are departing from. If you choose not to use the AIT, then a pat down would be the method of screening available. I hope this helped you and thanks for posting


So, virtual strip search, or sexual assault. Nice choices.

Anonymous said...

Make that strip search AND assault, since deviation from the norm the TSA set up (short hair, white, thin, healthy) sets one up for assault at the hands of screeners.

Scars, deformities, or protrusions from surgery can cause a false positive.

You forgot to mention that, West.

*screen shot