Cellphones in operating rooms: An asset or distraction? — 10 things to note

Practice Management

Cellphones can be an asset for physicians in operating rooms to pull up important health data on patients. However, cell phones are often used for other purposes such as texting a family member or friend, causing many experts to advocate for a ban on cellphones in the operating room, according to the Washington Post.

Here are 10 things to note:


1. Distractions from cellphone use can lead to medical errors or lax safety procedures.


2. A Texas anesthesiologist allegedly sent text messages and e-mails when monitoring a patient in 2011. The patient died after her oxygen levels dropped without the anesthesiologist noticing for nearly 20 minutes.


3. The American College of Surgeons, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and other physicians have issued warnings about cellphones in operating rooms and advocate for clear rules on whether and how they can be used.


4. While some experts raise concern about the potential for noise or distraction, others point to issue related to infection control.


5. As of yet, no federal regulations or industry-wide quality measures have addressed phone use in healthcare settings in operating rooms.

6. A physician at Yorkville Endoscopy clinic took a picture during an operation on comedian Joan Rivers, who later went into cardiac arrest. Although the cardiac arrest was not directly linked to the phone use, the cell phone usage further demonstrates how physicians separate themselves from the reality of the operating room.


7. The University of Rochester Medical Center in New York requires staff to keep cellphones on silent when working with patients. Staff is prohibited from using phones for personal matter when they are at any clinical work stations.


8. While cell phones can be used effectively for gathering patient data, it is difficult to monitor what exactly medical personnel are using cellphones for. Physicians often violate rules that ban cellphone use in operating rooms.


9. Healthcare professionals must create a culture that discourages inappropriate distractions as a way to regulate phone use.


10. While distractions are not a recent issue, cellphones pose more danger by offering more information and thus, greater potential for diversion.


More articles on practice management:
Growing danger of security breaches in healthcare — 6 things to know
10 reasons why clinical empathy is crucial in healthcare
Datta Endoscopic Back Surgery & Pain Center adds 2 locations: 5 things to know

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