Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Editorials

Use of mobile phones in hospitals

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.38995.599769.80 (Published 12 October 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:767

Rapid Response:

Re: Dial M for MRSA

Whilst recently on a pediatric cardiac intensive care unit for
several days, I
was struck by how senior consultant mobile phone did not cause any
inference even when used in close proximity to children, whereas,
judging
by the Herculean efforts of nursing staff to police their use, those of
other
people would have. I could find no explanation of this differential effect
in the
literature.

Richard Brady points out that the ‘basic requirements expected in
an
editorial on mobile phone usage in hospitals is that ‘an accurate and up
to
date review of the new research be regarded and evaluated’. He then cites
the
case report by Hahn et al of a child’s death attributed to mobile phone
use,
but as far as I can see from my reading of the article, the child did not
die,
but suffered ‘pulmonary edema, ECG changes, and myocardial damage as
evidenced by elevated cardiac enzymes’. No indication is given of the
severity
of these effects.

Regarding bacterial contamination, no doubt mobile phones do get
contaminated with bacteria that may cause nosocomial infections, but then
if
mobile phones do so do other phones, pagers, computer
keyboards (1) and all other surfaces which are frequently handled . In
fact
because mobile phones tend to be used mainly by their owners the risk of
transmission is probably lower compared to landlines and computer
keyboards which are shared. In any case, the solution to this is correct
disinfection and not a ban on phones, pagers or computers.

1. Hartmann B, Benson M, Junger A, Quinzio L, Rohrig R, Fengler B,
Farber
UW, Wille B, Hempelmann G. Computer keyboard and mouse as a reservoir of
pathogens in an intensive care unit. J Clin Monit Comput. 2004 Feb;18(1):7
-12.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

16 October 2006
Mark Wilks
Lead Clinical Scientist
Microbiology, Barts and the London NHS Trust, E1 2ES