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MC34978: What does a MISO return word of 0xff mean?

Question asked by Patrick Sullivan on Jul 29, 2015

I am using a MC34978 and I am reading the Switch status register via SPI once every millisecond. However every few hundred reads the first byte returned is 0xFF rather than 0x3E. What does this mean? The entire 32 bit word returned is 0xffbadbad which I am guessing means something "bad" is going on but what causes this word to be returned from a SPI read operation?