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

Not just a phone: more a multimedia device

The risks of interference with electronic equipment by stray
electromagnetic radiation emitted by digital mobile phone can now largely
be discounted. As a result, lifting of restrictions on their use in
hospitals (and similar environments) seems a reasonable plea (Derbyshire
SWG, Editorial, Brit Med J. 2006; 333: 767). Unfortunately, mobile phones
are no longer simple verbal communcation devices, but now sport an array
of multimedia devices, including still and video photography - together
with the ability to instantly transmit captured images. "Happy slapping"
(and equivalent) videos are examples of the uses to which phone videos can
be put, with display of the recording on "U-tube" with minutes.
Sadly, it is inevitable that blanket removal of the ban on mobile phones
will lead to their use to record intimate personal images and clinical
events by phone users who are not necessarily subject to the ethical
strictures of the professions.
The ban on mobile phones must remain in force (and be enforced) in
clinical areas, and the reasons for the restriction made explicit.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

02 November 2006
Paul G Lawler
Medical Director, Iodem Health
The Corner House, 3 Syllenhurst Barns, Nantwich Road, Woore, Shrops. CW3 9RH