Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Mixed Messages

Medical myths

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 20 December 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:1288

Rapid Response:

Orders of magnitude?

I note the response of Wilson to this article. I also note that the article in "Critical Care" indicates the following: "Critical care equipment is vulnerable to EMI by new-generation wireless telecommunication technologies with median distances of about 3 cm." The 3 metres suggested in Wilson's response relates to a single episode.

Indeed, the authors in "Critical Care" sensibly suggest an inner limit of 1 m from critical care equipment.

To accuse the authors of the present article of "stipidity and irresponsibility" seems inappropriate. They have legitimately raised issues for discussion and pointed out the possible advantages of being able to use mobile telephony in the health care setting, rather than just accepting "conventional wisdom".

The fact that labouring ladies sometimes text others during childbirth does not seem relevant to the discussion here. CTG (cardiotocograph) machines are probably not "critical care" devices, and in any event, continuous CTG monitoring is not always clinically indicated. Affording women the opportunity to communicate with their friends at a difficult time seems like a good idea to me. For many young women today, SMS is the mode of choice.

As to the separate issue of hydration; physiologically, the mythical 70 kg man needs about 2 L of water intake each day. Unless he is being fasted, a good deal of that intake is an ingredient of various foods. Thus the suggestion that 8 glasses of water a day is excessive might be correct. However, we also need to consider the environmental factors. In the Australian summer for example, physical workers and sportspeople exercising in the outdoors often consume three or four litres of water in order to maintain their wellbeing.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

24 December 2007
Andrew J Rees
GP Registrar