Mobile use in hospitals

While AMTA recommends that people should turn off their mobile phones when requested by hospitals, there is little evidence of interference with medical equipment in general use. In fact many hospitals are using wireless technology to reduce medical errors, improve quality of patient care, enhance efficiency and decrease costs.

Hospitals originally banned phones due to anecdotal evidence that they could interfere with monitors and pacemakers. However, major health and hospital advisory bodies such as the American Medical Association (AMA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) do not presently condone blanket bans on using mobile phones in hospitals. Instead, both organisations encourage hospitals to develop local guidelines to minimise the risk of interference, by taking into account local circumstances, including the location of sensitive medical equipment. The MHRA has stated:

The Agency does not recommend a blanket ban on the use of mobile phones in hospitals, recognising that they are in everyday use and provide practical means of communication for people.

More over, there are a number of benefits of allowing mobile phones in hospitals. Many patients suffer isolation while in hospital and are unable to contact their relatives or businesses to inform them about their condition or when they may be discharged. Mobile phones can assist patients to communicate with loved ones.

Whether you are medical staff, a patient or a visitor, mobile phones can be extremely useful in hospitals. However, it is always important to be respectful and considerate of other people.

Here are some tips on using your mobile in a hospital:

  1. Only use your mobile phone in designated areas.  Research shows that it is unlikely mobile phones will interfere with medical equipment unless in extremely close proximity. However it is still important to follow hospital policy. There are some places where you may not be able to take or use your phone and signs should clearly indicate where mobile phones can and cannot be used. However if in doubt, ask a staff member.
  2. Turn your phone to silent so you don’t disturb others.
  3. Respect the privacy of other patients and staff members when taking photos, especially any that you are intending to share on social media.