Intended for healthcare professionals


Mobile phones in hospitals

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 01 March 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:460

Are not as hazardous as believed and should be allowed at least in non-clinical areas

  1. Saul G Myerson, clinical lecturer (,
  2. Andrew R J Mitchell, specialist registrar (
  1. Department of Cardiology, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford OX4 3AU

    Mobile phones (cell phones) are a source of irritation for some but undeniably useful for many, and over 50% of the population of the United Kingdom possess one. Their use in hospitals, however, is mostly banned as they are considered potentially hazardous in medical environments. But the evidence for serious harm is flimsy, and the hysteria that surrounds the use of mobile phones in hospitals is unjustified.

    So how dangerous are they? The evidence for harm is limited. Anecdotal reports exist of interference with medical electrical equipment, 1 2 which led to a study by the Medical Devices Agency in the United Kingdom.3 In this study, 4% of medical devices suffered from electromagnetic interference from digital mobile phones at a distance of 1 metre. This compared with 41% from emergency services' handsets and 35% from porters' handsets. Most of the interference related to disturbance of the signal on monitors, such …

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