Sunday, March 11, 2007

Hospitals can hear you now

Agent 86 would be proud of the following news story. Depending on your age out there in blogland, you'll understand this reference to a great television show from the 1960s.

Anyway, everytime you walk into a hospital, there's a sign at the front door saying "No cell phones." To be honest, everyday I go into my hospital, everybody from docs, to nurses, to staff, to patients, to families -- I see cell phones used all over the hospital. But, I digress...

Hospital policies across the country forbid mobile phones from being used citing possible interference with electronic equipment. A recent study done at the Mayo Clinic states that normal use of cellular phones does NOT cause interference with "patient care equipment." (Reuters)
Dr. David Hayes and colleagues said their tests suggest the ban is unmerited. They tested cell phones using two different technologies from different carriers, switching them on near 192 different medical devices. During 300 tests run over five months, they reported no trouble with the equipment.
So, I'm sure that everyone out there will now take this study to your medical executive committee and/or favorite administrator to get this cell phone ban lifted, right? Sure, I'll get right on that.

Something interesting, as a kind of unintended consequence of all this, is the use of camera phones within the hospital. I'm not so concerned about the phone part as I am the camera part.

I know what you're thinking, "Well, Dr. A, what do hospitals have to hide?" That's not it. I've talked about the litigious society that we live in now. And, people (especially the press) like to take things out of context.

I'm not just talking about taking images of docs, but any person in the hospital who cares for patients - like nurses, aides, physical therapy, techs, dietary - and the list goes on. What would be the full implications if camera phones were actually permitted in hospitals?

The bottom line is this. As far as their use in the hospital, cellular phones have as much chance of interfering with hospital equipment as they do of interfering with airplane equipment on takeoff and landing. HA! Can you hear me now? YES!


jmb said...

And what about patients, Dr A? They don't wish to be photographed with their rear ends hanging out of their hospital gowns, while walking the corridors, carrying their bags of bloody urine after a TUPR. A constant sight in the hospital where I worked for 18 years in Pharmacy.

Donna said...

My dear doctor even allows me to take pictures for my AOL journal... so far. For pictures of him stitching up my leg, check this out:

D.P. said...

I took a picture (with my phone) of toilet paper trailing through the waiting area of the emergency department . . . I plan to use it in a future blog post. The picture doesn't show any faces, etc. Just feet and TP. Gross.

Jan said...

I was thinking more along the lines of jmb. Could you expand on your ideas of what the full implications might be (for hospital staff)?


SuperStenoGirl said...

I've always liked how they tell us to turn off the phones on the plane and when asked said it interferes with service. Let me tell you - I can barely get service on the ground; the chances of getting it 30,000 feet up are nil!

As for camera phones - yea. Gotta be careful with them. Privacy laws, confidentiality stuff. No pictures in sensitive areas of the hospital (like the doctors lounge.. he he)

Dr. K said...

*sigh* The secret is out. I have known this for a long time but I really like that most people don't; hospitals are not the place to be gabbing loudly on one's cell phone (at least in my opinion) so I've rather enjoyed the "it interferes with medical equipment" story.

Gledwood said...

Hi long time no see! I saw you in my linxx again I've not been here in ages. What was I going to say... man my brain!! Everything goes. Like a mental seive.
Anyway come see my wasps fighting the bees vid I pasted it up today I guaranteee you will love it I think it's fantastic though some people say it's gory (in a wasps biting bees' heads off kind of way)...

Visionary & Medium Extraordinaire said...

I absolutely agree with Dr.K
I think this has to do with cellphone etiquette if nothing else.
The nice thing about 'back home'(Scandinavia) for me is that people are a lot more polite about their yapping on a phone in public, on planes, and especially in hospitals.
Sort of like the British, they know how to line up in a 'Q'
It's all about manners where ever you go, and about personal space and politeness.
And cameras in hospitals - Give me a BREAK! And I'm a photographer among other things, yet I KNOW where, and when not to take pictures.

The Curmudgeon said...

Well the equipment dodge went right out the window when you notice every doctor, nurse and janitor yakking away.

I just spent nearly a week in the hospital and the only time cell phone use was discouraged was when I was in a surgical step down unit and quarters were so cramped that one's cell phone conversations would be shared involuntarily by all sorts of people.

But anyone using a camera phone in a hospital as a camera should be put in a gown... and thrown out into the nearest street. It would only serve them right.

Cathy said...

I do think they have their place in the hospital. When I was in the hospital the last time, they let me have and use my cell phone. It helps greatly when most of your family is out of state and you can talk back and forth on your cell phone rather than pay for all the long distance charges of using landlines.

But, the camera phones I'm not so sure about. I would not have wanted someone taking my pic while I was in hosp. and just like jmb says, people walking around with their rear ends hanging out. Thats another topic for discussion...What is the point of these gowns anyway? Unless one is having a colonoscopy or had surgery (back there), most places drs. are checking are on our fronts, not our backs!

The Beach Bum said...

I don't like cell phones. I don't own one.

However, I would like to own a Maxwell Smart - Shoe Phone.

If I could get the "Cone of Silence" with the Shoe phone as a package deal from Verizon, I'd be happier than a pig in ****.

Nurse M said...

We "enoucrage" people not to use cell phones in our NICU "because of the medical equipment." Funny thing.. no one says anything about someone snapping a shot of their little baby. Good point though about snapping shots of individuals who work at the hospital. hmmm... who has a pic with me in the background?!

Carol said...

BTW, as an update, I noticed Sitemeter is up and running once again...LOL.

You know, I've often wondered why cellphones aren't allowed inside hospitals. I was always told they would screw up a hospital's telemetry. It's refreshing to know that's a crock. LOL.

I think cellphones have their place in a hospital - waiting rooms, lounges and the cafeteria, maybe. Patients don't need to be disturbed by the sound of those silly cacophonous ringtones.

Interesting post, Dr.A!


I don't mind the phones as long as the person is not a cell phone screamer (those people annoy me to no end) but the camera is definitely a no no. I have one on mine but would never use it in a hospital. I don't want people taking pictures of my hiney hanging out "the gown".

Valerie said...

What about patient confidentiality?

SeaSpray said...

Wow! I never thought about the camera cell phones - ever. Talk about HIPPA violations! And as a patient - I would be horrified to think someone violated my privacy in any way. Yikes!

Grandparents Cyber Corner said...

Wow... Doc A!

I always believed the hospital staff when they said cell phones would interfere with heart monitors and other equipment hospitals use. I've tried to be good too although I have to admit for using them on a couple of occasions when a telephone wasn't available. I can understand, however, what you are sharing about camera phones and privacy issues. Especially the sort of new HIPPA privacy laws. I've been in the hospital as a patient and would definitely not want to end up in a pic on someones camera cell phone. Had never thought of it before now either. Thanks for sharing this.

And... I must tell you grandpa and I were truly honored with your visit to our blog, as I have seen you and your blog are at or near the top of the list on Top 100. We are newbie bloggers trying our best and so appreciate that you took the time.

Best to you always!