Personal Views

Electronic nagging

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 26 April 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:1287
  1. Geoffrey Bunch, a consultant surgeon in Huddersfield

    It was a broken leg that first introduced me to hospitals. “What are the coloured lights for?” I asked my mother. She explained that they were to summon the doctors, each one having his own individual code. The coloured lights, in 1947, were a primitive means of communication, but they had one great virtue—they were silent.

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    By the time I became a medical student doctors were summoned by bleepers. Bleepers were allocated only to those who might be required urgently—the house officers. We medical students were summoned by bells—three bells for a surgical dresser, two for a medical clerk. Our duties were menial, but those old bells, the successors to the coloured lights and forerunners of bleepers made us feel important.

    I graduated and in 1962 became the proud possessor of a …

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