New TSA Screening rules. They can make us go through scanners


#1

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-tsa-changes-policy-20151228-story.html

This really concerns me. They can make us go through scanner even if we request to be hand searched. Will it take someone losing their pump to protect us?


#2

Sounds like they need to justify it as a security necessity in order to not allow the hand screening— I suspect that this means they’ll have to document the necessity, etc… Making it substantially more hassle for them than to just do a hand pat down like they’ve always done— so I’m guessing that unless they actually think you’re a terrorist with a suicide vest on they’ll continue to pat you down cuz it’s just easier for everyone… But that’s just my theory

If I’m wrong I will miss the free massages.


#3

I wonder if going through the scanner voids insulin pump warranties.


#4

I’m not all that concerned about having to be scanned, though. I read contradictory things about possible damage to a pump–I know some things aren’t supposed to go through the conveyer-belt scanner because that uses x-rays, but I think most of the walk-throughs use some kind of microwave tech. I generally avoid 'em out of hyper-caution anyway, but I have gone through a few times with no problems.

Actually, what really worries me—somewhat tongue-in-cheek but only somewhat—is some a**hole disguising an explosive device as an insulin pump. Then we’re really screwed.


#5

If you look, you’ll find some makers tell you to avoid walk-through scanners and others say it’s not a problem. I think Medtronic was the one that warned against it when I was looking into this last spring. I don’t recall it saying anything about the warranty though.


#6

This type of ruling is basically going to come back and bite TSA. It will just take some time. There is apparently some guy who has sued the TSA over the issue, but it is basically a civil rights and unconstitutionality argument. There is a petition which if it get’s 100,000 signatures will ask the president for a response.

In the end, either pump manufacturers will have to accept that these scanners represent “normal” operating environments (and they will assure the FDA that their products can withstand routine scanning) or someone will be harmed by having their pump fail 30,000 feet above the ground and in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. And make no mistake if people are routinely forced through scanners the FDA will intervene to make sure that people are not harmed by medical devices that fail in normal operation.


#7

Unfortunately, I do not have as much faith as Brian has RE FDA intervention…


#8

There are lots of medical devices and implants that can’t even be seen and certainly not disconnected. Those that are inside the body won’t be found with a pat down at all. The X-ray and imaging are not approved for such devices and the FDA requires the mfg to put warnings in place. My devices actually came with cards with warnings in clear print (albeit English). Folks with Pacemakers, VNS, Cochlear and such simply can not go into the machines other than metal detector, so TSA will accommodate as long as the traveler notifies them. If an agent says you can go in to the scan and you don’t say no, then that is a choice you made. Just say NO and show her your reasoning. We are very fortunate that our particular medical device is not inside our body after all.


#9

good thing i don’t fly.


#10

Am I the only one who is not concerned about this at all? I routinely and frequently go through scanners with my pump and my cgm on me. I show them to TSA staff, they swipe my hands with a pad, check the pad on a machine, and wish me a good flight - this takes about 1 min extra time. Imaging scanners (not X-ray) employ non-ionizing millimeter wave (MMW) radio-frequencies at power levels more than 1000 times smaller than limits considered safe by international standards. They have been found safe for personal medical electronic devices, including insulin pumps, pacemakers, etc. However, I would not let my pump go through an X-ray scanner.


#11

While you’re likely correct, it is important to question the source… The pump manufacturers have no reason to lie or exaggerate their certainty whatsoever, whereas the government has absolutely no reason not to…


#12

I have a medtronic pump and this did happen to me 2 years ago. Mr. Smarty Pants TSA manager decided to run my pump through the xray after I told him and his staff not to 3 times. The other staff heard me, he didn’t. We were at a small airport, it wasn’t loud or busy. My husband went ballistic on the manager and really they should know better. I’m tired of TSA pleading the fifth on knowledge of medical devices. Long story short, I got the manager’s info, he apologized profusely, and my pumped died a couple days later. Medtronic conveyed to me that there is an error code that typically occurs with xray exposure. My pump displayed that error code. I was still under warranty so they sent me out a new one no cost. So yes, xray exposure is covered under warranties with Medtronic. I’m still waiting to receive money from TSA for the copious supplies I went through waiting for my replacement pump from Medtronic. I filed a claim with TSA, still no resolution as of yet. This happened 2 years ago. GRRRRR :rage: this situation still fries my noodle just thinking about it.

Since then, I have flown and have had wonderful experiences with TSA. I get a hand swipe and TSA doesn’t put my pump through the xray (conveyer belt) and everyone is happy.
Medtronic has it documented a number of places in their literature for a pump when you buy one, don’t expose your pump to xray radiation. That goes for their CGM as well. No warranty coverage for CGM on xray exposure. If you follow the directions for the devices, then you will have a high likelihood of no issues. There is a reason why it is documented.
Busybee


#13

So the FDA did study of AIT in 2011 and found no observed interference. Note that AIT is either millimeter wave (MMW) or X-Ray backscatter (low levels of radiation). Basic X-Ray is high levels of radiation. The FDA study just looked at MMW systems and only looked at a few pumps and looked at whether they immediately malfunctioned.

A follow up study by DHS/TSA in 2013 again looked at insulin pumps in MMW AIT systems and found no interference. Apparently 2 pumps actually didn’t work, but the report “claims” it had nothing to do the the testing.

It is important to note that these studies simply looked at whether the insulin pumps had an detectable failure immediately upon being scanned. They did not look at anything else. And these studies don’t override manufacturers statements and warranty coverage.

I actually believe that if reports of patient harm from failed insulin pumps start to come in to the FDA they will act. The medical device manufacturers are in fact the customers of the FDA and they will want FDA intervention. It will be both politically beneficial for the FDA to get involved and they will have the support of their customers. This is not the usual case but it is business as usual in Washington.

ps. And putting your insulin pump onto the conveyor to go through the X-Ray is really, really bad.


#14

Can anyone offer their explanation as to why it’s not a good idea to put an insulin pump through the conveyor x-ray machine? The only evidence I’ve seen so far is anecdotal. If anything, I can see how flying would actually be more harmful to a pump due to the pressurized cabin.

I’m not discounting the thought, but I haven’t actually seen a true explanation of why it’s a bad idea.

Thanks


#15

@busybee, did you disconnect your pump to enable the TSA to put it through the belt x-ray scan? Did the TSA demand you to disconnect?

My experience has been that I’ve voluntarily disconnected my pump and sent it through the belt scanner. I didn’t realize that this was a problem and after doing it several times without incident, I thought it was OK. I’ve done this over many years with different brand pumps and I’ve never had one fail. I guess I’ve been lucky.

I now know with my current Animas Ping, if I remove the metal clip and put the pump in my pocket, I can get through the gate detector most times without ringing. I don’t have to go through the “naked machine” because I travel with a hypo-alert dog and that situation is incompatible with the that scanner.


#16

The X-Ray screening machines at airports have improved over the years and are considered safe for things like laptops and so forth which are powered down, but they can damage sensitive electronics particularly when the electronics is powered. X-Rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation which can induce electrical currents in metal. These currents are usually benign and dissipate immediately once the X-Ray source is removed. But in powered electronics they can cause bits to flip in memories or outright electrical failures where stuff get’s burned out. The most likely problem would be a disruption of the software in memory for the insulin pump.

It is just not a good idea to risk your insulin pump going through X-Rays. If you absolutely must you submit to a scan you can minimize the chance of damage by powering it completely down.

ps. The risks of disruption/ham are probably pretty small, consider that millions of people have their cell phones scanned while powered on.


#17

X-ray machines produce radiation that is ionizing, i.e. having enough energy to alter atoms of matter. This is the root cause of why X-rays can be harmful to living beings, but also to devices embedded in electronic chips, which can ultimately result in failures. Not very likely, but certainly possible. I would never subject my pump to an X-ray scanner. Imaging scanners employ non-ionizing radio-frequency radiation at relatively low power levels and are therefore much, much safer for people and for electronics.


#18

Actually, they do. It’s called fear of litigation. “If you took it through and it failed, we’re not responsible; we told you not to do it.” It’s also referred to as covering your ***.


#19

Hi @Terry4,
I voluntarily disconnect (still on and running) my pump every time I go through security. In order for the TSA to do a hand swip, they have to move my pump outside of xray machines. So I disconnect it, give to an agent, I go through the walk through xray, my pump goes with the agent free from xray exposure and meet them on the other side for the swip. No one demands me to disconnect. I nicely ask for a hand swip and that my pump not be run through any xray machine. It works pretty well now. I also gave TSA an earful about training on insulin pumps when i filed my claim. There are many medical devices that shouldn’t be exposed to xray radiation.

I’m sure there is always a chance nothing will happen, but before my pump was run through the conveyer belt xray scanner it was working perfectly. No issues at all. Then 2 days later it had a complete melt down. I couldn’t do anything. I would push buttons, nothing happened. It started with a no delivery and went down hill from there. I was 6 months pregnant at the time and my pump is essential during pregnancy. It is more difficult without the pump when I’m pregnant than when I’m not. Due to higher doses of insulin having to be bolused and scheduled basals that are higher all with little room for error. That and it makes my life 100% easier managing my diabetes so I can take care of my myself, kids and husband. My pump helps me keep incredibly tight control during pregnancy, that and i also use the sensor/transmitter.

Sounds like you have been lucky so far. I personally wouldn’t play with fire. I hate, hate being without my pump. I know how to use it, use it well and I need it. I also don’t know warranty coverage options with the Animas Ping with exposure to xrays and also what the company’s policy is on xrays.

i am not very scientific with the explanation, but I have read the explanations before and @Brian_BSC nailed it. Thanks @Brian_BSC! The pump is a machine the radiation can mess with the internal workings of any machine. Medtronic rep told me that the radiation disabled the piston function and without the piston function it doesn’t work. They often see a certain failure/error code associated with xray exposure and it has to do with the piston.

You will get no judgement from me. Everyone has to make a decision on this on their own. I personally don’t want to risk it my pump or the money/warranty risk. Medtronic’s policy is clear so I follow that.

Thanks,
Busybee


#20

Your account persuades me to avoid the x-ray belt. Lately, I have not been disconnecting. I just remove the metal clip and walk through the magnetometer gate with the pump in my pocket.

I looked at the animas user guide yesterday and it didn’t have any x-ray prohibitions. Here is the pertinent section:

Pumps will rarely set off airport metal detectors, so there is no need to remove your pump when passing through airport security. However, as airport security technology becomes more sophisticated, it is possible that a pump will set off the detector.

For more information on traveling with pumps, visit the American Diabetes Association (ADA) website (www.diabetes.org) or call your local airport for security guidelines that may apply.

I tried to contact Animas by phone yesterday about this but gave up after a 10 minute hold. I feel pretty confident that if they had an x-ray prohibition it would have been called out in the user guide. In any case, I feel no need to tempt fate.