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Using mobile phones in hospitals: what's the worst that could happen?

Layla McCay and Andy Smith look at the evidence for the potential dangers of using mobile phones in hospitals and discuss whether banning mobiles in hospitals is reasonable

  • By: Layla McCay, Andy Smith
  • Published: 01 March 2003
  • DOI: 10.1136/sbmj.030352
  • Cite this as: Student BMJ 2003;11:43–86

Most of us have had an unintentional but incriminating rendition of Old MacDonald had a Farm announcing itself from the bottom of our bag. Irritating ring tones may draw glares in any public place, but nowhere is mobile phone use more likely to cause offence than in a hospital.

Everybody has the vague notion that using mobile phones in hospitals is “officially wrong.” At some time, however, most of us forget to turn our phones off. By sending that all important text message are we really endangering the lives of patients? In a world of evidence based medicine, it would be nice to rely on more than hearsay for the answer. Guilt has inspired my quest for the truth.

By allowing mobile phone use in certain areas of hospitals, confusion could ensue about which areas were “safe,” and people might be more likely to use their phone in high risk

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