Intended for healthcare professionals


Use of mobile phones in hospitals

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 12 October 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:767

Mobile phones in Hospitals

Sir, I read with interest the editorial by Stuart WG Derbyshire et al
on the use of mobile phones in hospitals.

There is a growing trend in hospitals throughout the world to
incorporate mobile phones and other wireless technology to offer more
efficient, cost effective, and higher quality healthcare. Misunderstanding
of mobile phone systems, electromagnetic interference with medical
devices, and available management solutions, however, has led to a wide
range of inconsistent hospital policies. Recent reviews and commentaries
on the subject have provided inconsistent and in some cases factually
incorrect information that confuses the issue.

At one extreme, unmanaged use of mobile phones in areas where life
critical medical devices are in operation can result in atypical
situations that may place patients at risk. At the other extreme, overly
restrictive policies based upon speculation may deny benefits by acting as
an obstacle to technology. Overly restrictive policies may also not
address growing and legitimate communication needs of patients and
visitors in times of crisis. While it may not be feasible for hospitals to
manage every mobile phone handset that is randomly brought into their
facility without certain limits on use in areas where life-critical
devices are commonly in operation, restrictions are not usually necessary
throughout the entire facility. Restrictive policies are also better
facilitated when easily accessible areas are designated where mobile phone
use is encouraged. Controlled mobile phone systems for use by doctors and
staff for hospital-specific communication, by contrast, can operate
compatibly throughout the entire hospital facility with appropriate system
design and management, even in sensitive areas.

I therefore think a cautious and controlled use with respect to
reservations in specific premises in the hospital complex would not be

I therefore see the use of mobile phones in hospitals as a welcome
change to enable better communication among health care professionals to
provide better quality of care for patients.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

18 October 2006
Leena Das
Specialist Registrar Rheumatology/GIM
Colchester General Hospital,Essex Rivers NHS Trust,CO4 5JL