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

Re: Dial M for MRSA

With regard to the potential infection risk of using a mobile
telephone on hospital wards.
I have had experience of a number of bleep systems in a variety of
trusts during my training.
With changing working patterns of junior doctors, these bleeps are
passed between two or sometimes three sets of hands during an
average 24 hour period.
The bleep invariably requires manipulation to retrieve the number
to which the doctor is required to respond.
The responder is then required find a free 'land-line' at a busy
nursing station (not cleansed prior to each use, I am sure) in order
to answer the call.
This system breaks down if the number bleeped by the archaic
system was dialled incorrectly, or the 'bleeper' is now engaged, (or
has become bored waiting for a response, whilst the busy doctor is
waiting patiently for a telephone to become available at said
nursing station.)
In these cases, the whole sorry affair is often repeated.
Either way, it involves far more contact with a variety of devices,
more of which have been touched by multiple members of staff.
This may increase the risk of contamination, and, more importantly,
it may increase the chance that important information may never
reach it's intended recipient at all.
I feel certain, from clinical practice, that many more patients are put
at risk due to delays from unanswered, or mis-directed bleeps,
than are affected by cases of infusion pump (or other device)
Unfortunately, I am not aware of any strong evidence to this effect.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

21 October 2006
Richard W S biram
Specialist Registrar
St Marys Hospital, London W2