Mobile Phones and Hospitals

If you walk into most hospitals in Northern Ireland you will see large signs prohibiting the use of mobile phones. If you attempt to use one near a patient you are very likely to get in trouble with the nursing staff. Elenwë had to secretly use her phone when in for the birth of both our children.However, if you spend time in hospitals you will notice that, although the junior doctors have “bleeps”, the more senior one such as Registrars and Consultants have none. They can often be seen being rung, issuing advice and generally talking on their mobile phones.

In view of the dread warnings regarding the dangers of mobile phones one might suspect that these senior doctors are putting their patients in danger. However, if one looks up this issue on the British Medical Journal website one sees a rather different position. In 2003 they suggested allowing them at least in non clinical areas.

In 2006 there position was even more liberal.

Even the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency are relatively relaxed on the subject.

Some doctors seem to think the whole ban is unnecessary which rather ties in with my observations above.

So where is this going you may ask?

Well patients may be banned from having mobile phones but many have phones (and televisions) by their bedside. This service is provided by a particularly enlightened and altruistic organisation called Patientline. Unfortunately Patientline seem to feel that it is fine to charge more to ring your loved one in say the Royal than a loved one in Europe. Despite this they still seem to be loosing money; something I have to say I find difficult to be distressed about. In addition Patientline provide televisions at a not inconsiderable cost to the patient. This has coincided with the removal of the television found in each ward / bay. Also should you wish to bring in your own television that is not allowed as hospital engineers have to check it. Funnily there seems less concern about other things such as DVD players or computers, which of course Patientline do not supply.

This all sounds like a bit of a rip off. If mobile phones are a nuisance they should obviously be stopped. This should not, however, be done when they are not a nuisance and there is little reason to stop patients leaving theirs on. Presumably patients would have the wit to stop talking when a doctor or nurse is working with them, but of course the same applies to a Patientline phone. The dangerousness of every ones’ home televisions is also rather difficult to believe in.

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