Now, Mobile Phones Are Good For Hospitals

from the machine-that-goes-bing dept

Earlier in the week, a story came out of Singapore about a hospital that was allowing its staff to carry mobile phones after tests showed they had no impact on medical equipment. Many hospitals have held to their bans on phones in fear they'll interfere with equipment, but another new study says there's actually a big benefit in letting people use them (via Textually). Researchers at Yale have found that the use of cell phones in hospitals reduces their error rates since it allows for more timely communications -- and the incidence of interference is lower than the incidence of error caused by delayed communication. Looks like that long-held ban might be hurting things more than it helps.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    dorpus, Jan 27th, 2006 @ 4:38pm

    Is there a treatment for deafness?

    After the last thread where half a dozen health professionals had said mobile phones are harmful, and gave real life examples, ....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Thomas, Jan 27th, 2006 @ 5:38pm

    Re: Is there a treatment for deafness?

    From the article: He said the reported 2.4 percent prevalence of electronic interference with life support devices such as ventilators, intravenous infusion pumps, and monitoring equipment is much lower than the 14.9 percent risk of observed medical error or injury due to a delay in communication.

    It's not saying there's no interference, just that the communication benefits provided by cell phones produced more positive patient outcomes than the risk of cell phone interference with medical equipment.
    The examples you refer to are anecdotal.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2006 @ 5:58pm

    In other news, cell phones save lives when...

    old people fall down, car crashes, Uncle Bob ate one two many grease burgers and had a heart attack...

    Of course the interference would be negligible enough to not matter to equipment - its not a high power signal like your microwave oven (aka: the microwave) uses to fry food.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Pat, Jan 27th, 2006 @ 7:23pm

    They do it here in Japan...

    My wife is pregnant. We live in Japan and go to a specialty women's clinic. Just yesterday we went for a check-up (she's 8.5 months now) and while my wife wife was hooked to a monitering device detecting contractions and the baby's heartbeat.

    Then nurses' cell phone rang. She was needed upstairs for a birth. The other nurse was in the delivery room on her cell phone.

    I didn't notice any funky readings on any of the equipment...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Andrew Strasser, Jan 27th, 2006 @ 9:53pm

    Re: They do it here in Japan...

    Rf causes cancer...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    dorpus, Jan 27th, 2006 @ 10:20pm

    Why Yale is a laughingstock

    Despite the overall reputation of the school, Yale's biostatistics capabilities are quite poor. This anesthesiologist-led study is no exception, making a laughable statement that "2.4 percent prevalence of electronic interference with life support devices such as ventilators, intravenous infusion pumps, and monitoring equipment is much lower than the 14.9 percent risk of observed medical error or injury due to a delay in communication." How many of these medical errors occur because the health care professionals are distracted by cell phones? How many delays in communication occur because cell phones interfere with communications, 2.4% of the time? I would want to see loglinear models, odds ratios, autocorrelation adjustments, residual analyses, matched case-control setups.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Panaqqa, Jan 27th, 2006 @ 10:53pm

    The real truth...

    Actually, it has been known for a long time that cellphones operate on the wrong frequencies and at too low a power level to cause any interference with medical equipment at all. The real reason hospitals banned cellphones and continue to do so? Banks of payphones for visitors and horribly overpriced room phones for patients are significant profit centers. You don't see any demands that police and paramedics turn off their RF equipment in the hospital do you? And those persons are usually around the emergency department, where there is a high concentration of hi tech equipment in the trauma room, etc. The only interference cellphones might cause in hospitals is with the bottom line.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    SMG, Jan 27th, 2006 @ 11:35pm

    Re: The real truth...

    i work in a hospital. since i got a cell about 6 years ago, i have always carried my cell. i x-ray people in ICU, ER, they bring critical patients to cat scan on vents and wireless ekg monitors.
    not ever even one time has anyone said "someone has a cellphone on!"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Joe, Jan 27th, 2006 @ 11:37pm

    No Subject Given

    Actually most medical equipment that I work on is not effected by rf interference. That equipment includes, feeding pumps, thermometry units, and ventalator boards (we make the boards only). Most of the pulse oxymetry boards we make will also be fine around cell phones, except the newest low power boards that are designed to be battery operated. Those will be fine once they are inside the unit. Cell phones are not supposed to be on the production floor, but engineering and other people have them on all the time and there are no known problems.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    Bubba Nicholson (profile), Jan 27th, 2006 @ 11:41pm

    Biostatistics are obviated.

    Yale is certainly no laughingstock. Biostatistics are unnecessary for managerial analysis. The last ICU monitors that used anything close to cell phone frequencies were made in the fifties. None continue in use in 2006. Even the ghetto and Indian reservation hospitals have worn them out, finally.
    Pagers are universal in American hospitals, nobody cares about pager emf.
    Quiet zones like reading rooms, movie theaters, and some hospital areas may still ban non-staff cell phones ringers and/or conversations, something that can be accomplished electronically, to further healing. Hospital telephones are fomites, anyway, and would reduce nosicomial illness and save lives if they were reduced or eliminated.
    Physicians spend entirely too much time tracking each other down playing pager tag. Twenty minute delays are common, as are non-contacts altogether. Cell phones have decent screens now, and the cameras are getting better, too. These, along with computers, are useful tools that physicians should make use of. Even today, most patient charts are hand-written merely to frustrate the ambulance chasers. Cellular transmission of encrypted patient data among physicians would extend the benefit of medical expertise, decrease costs & physician distress, and improve patient care.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    hautedawg, Jan 28th, 2006 @ 5:48am

    Re: The real truth...

    I was the victim of improper emergency medical treatment which left me a quadriplegic. It was not due to cell phones, microwaves or any other technical device. The real danger in hospitals is the arrogant doctor who is busy talking to his broker, wife, mistress or attorney and NOT paying attention to the patient. In my case, 4 shattered vertabrae where diagnosed as a torn muscle. Give me a cell phone and let me call a REAL physician.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Ryan Ahlborn, Jan 28th, 2006 @ 6:06am

    Re: They do it here in Japan...

    water causes cancer...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    W Decker, Jan 28th, 2006 @ 9:25am

    Re: They do it here in Japan...

    First off, even bananas cause cancer. Anything that has a chemical reaction releases some small amount of particle decay (radiation). Secondly, cellular phones have been safe to opperate in medical facilities for at least the last 5 years. As a matter of fact, 6 of the major hospitals in the Washington DC area are going to the Treos to use for communication.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2006 @ 12:28pm

    Re: The real truth...

    Totally correct. The biggest issue is DAMAGE. The hospitals DO NOT want to be liable for eqipment that can possibly be damaged by machines operating inside the hospital.

    IN alot of cases now I've heard that newer microwave don't even effect medical devices like the used to either.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Okita Soji, Jan 28th, 2006 @ 1:59pm

    Re: They do it here in Japan...

    No one knows what causes cancer...if rf caused cancer, we'd all have it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Posterlogo, Jan 28th, 2006 @ 2:51pm

    Re: Why Yale is a laughingstock

    Read the original journal article instead of just the news report, jackass. Using big words doesn't give you the capability to judge a study like this without looking at it a little more carefully. The study states simply that comparing the error rates, one would simply need to achieve a decrease in comm delay error of 2.4% below the existing 14.9% to justify allowing cell phones. The study suggests that the next step is infact to guage exactly that. First they identify the two error rates, and then setup for a study to determine if the comm delay error rate can indeed be reduced by allowing cell phones, to a level that would absorb the errors caused by cell phones, or more. Also, no need to insult Yale in general just because you personally didn't like one researcher's study. What next, you gonna say "stupid american university system is a laughing stock?" Less ranting, more thinking please. And at least a little more respect.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    srgtick, Jan 28th, 2006 @ 2:54pm

    Re: Why Yale is a laughingstock

    Of course no one but you would have thought of those variables. My god you are a genius.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    m0u5y, Jan 28th, 2006 @ 5:10pm

    No Subject Given

    Well, might might all very well have cancer.. or at least cancerous cells, infact if I'm not mistaken we all do, it just depends on how the body is able to fight it off the naturally occuring ones and if pathogens such as viruses and strong enough radiation is present... many people will get cancer and can't prevent it, just cure it and since the radiation from cellphones is no better or worse than the crap you get off this monitor you're staring at and the wireless and the billions of radiation sources which litter everyday life... if we worried about that we would be living in the stoneage. cellphones are very helpful and i believe that some hardheads wouldn't be able to affect progress because of some archaic beleif.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2006 @ 6:52pm

    No Subject Given

    Well duh cell phones don't interfere with medical equipment cause if it did it would interfere with all electronic devices, which it dosen't. Only Electromagnetic waves can effect electronic devies thats why solar flares are so dangerous. The 2% of the times that something did happen are insignificant and probably can be atrubitted to ather factors. As for the radation you are bombarded with so much radation a day. i believe the amount the Earth alone puts off is something like 300 million tons a day and that dosen't count cosmic radation. Any radation the a cell phone puts off is insignifigant.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2006 @ 7:14pm

    Re: They do it here in Japan...

    Andrew, I hate to break it to you, but everything causes cancer. Stop worrying and enjoy life. If you worry about getting cancer all the time, then you will never have any fun and will still die of the same things as the rest of us. Life is short. enjoy it.

    about the only Cell phones I know of that may come close to interfearing are iDen network phones (Nextel, SouthernLinc) and the ones I used in the military for secure communications. They both use an odd method of side banding that causes issues for some of my gear at home.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    WHO?, Jan 28th, 2006 @ 11:23pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    Well duh cell phones don't interfere with medical equipment cause if it did it would interfere with all electronic devices, which it dosen't. Only Electromagnetic waves can effect electronic devies thats why solar flares are so dangerous.

    You should understand the tech before you make a claim such as this...The fequency emitted by a cellphone is too small to register but IT DOESCAUSE CLOSE RANGE INTERFERNCE. I am a media specialist and know for a fact that it does, you can try this at home as well. Go stand next to an analog sound source unsheiled, like the input line to your computer speakers. Your computer speakers will amplify the signal and cause annoying interferance. This happends when you either on a call or the phone is looking for a signal.
    Now about the cancer stuff, you need a ton of power (voltage) to affect the human body and the proper frequencies, actually millions of volts at very high frequencies. low frequencies won't hurt you but they can make certain objects levitate. You can see these studies by searching for the philidelphia project and the Nazi Bell project.

    oh and I appologize for spelling and grammer...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Get your facts straight, Jan 29th, 2006 @ 10:30am

    Re: No Subject Given

    >> You should understand the tech before you make a claim such as this... > I am a media specialist > Go stand next to an analog sound source unsheiled, like the input line to your computer speakers. Your computer speakers will amplify the signal and cause annoying interferance. > you need a ton of power (voltage) to affect the human body > actually millions of volts at very high frequencies> oh and I appologize for spelling and grammer... <<

    Yeah, now about your lack of understanding the tech before you make a claim. Hmmm.



     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2006 @ 10:34am

    Re: No Subject Given

    - You should understand the tech before you make a claim such as this... Yes, YOU should! - I am a media specialist What does that qualify you for? - Go stand next to an analog sound source unsheiled, like the input line to your computer speakers. Your computer speakers will amplify the signal and cause annoying interferance. There is s big difference between reception and interference. A well designed device will receive many RF signals and will be designed to reject the interference. Cell phones have been around long enough that device manufactures know how to deal with their RF. If there is a problem then the device should be fixed. - you need a ton of power (voltage) to affect the human body Power actually measured in watts. It's the amperage that is dangerous in a human body. High volts or low volts don't matter. It's the amps that kill you. - actually millions of volts at very high frequencies Millions is an exaggeration. Your 120 volt at 60 hz electrical in your house can kill you. A 12 volt battery with enough amperage in the wrong place on your body can kill you. - oh and I appologize for spelling and grammer... Yeah, now about your lack of understanding the tech before you make a claim. Hmmm.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2006 @ 10:35am

    Re: No Subject Given

    - You should understand the tech before you make a claim such as this...

    Yes, YOU should!

    - I am a media specialist

    What does that qualify you for?

    - Go stand next to an analog sound source unsheiled, like the input line to your computer speakers. Your computer speakers will amplify the signal and cause annoying interferance.

    There is s big difference between reception and interference. A well designed device will receive many RF signals and will be designed to reject the interference. Cell phones have been around long enough that device manufactures know how to deal with their RF. If there is a problem then the device should be fixed.

    - you need a ton of power (voltage) to affect the human body

    Power actually measured in watts. It's the amperage that is dangerous in a human body. High volts or low volts don't matter. It's the amps that kill you.

    - actually millions of volts at very high frequencies

    Millions is an exaggeration. Your 120 volt at 60 hz electrical in your house can kill you. A 12 volt battery with enough amperage in the wrong place on your body can kill you.

    - oh and I appologize for spelling and grammer...

    Yeah, now about your lack of understanding the tech before you make a claim. Hmmm.



     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Andrew Strasser, Jan 29th, 2006 @ 12:28pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    I see people everyday with their cell phones attached to their heads all day long. Now mind you a study was done about this by the guy what his name again... Oh yeah "Can you hear me now?"... Basically I am just saying there are safer alternatives than this and pointing that out in a thread where obviously people are overlooking this for it's luxury. There are ways of lessening this rf directly into the side of your head, but hey it doesn't take a brain surgeon to perform a lobectomy does it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Ted Smith, Jan 29th, 2006 @ 12:59pm

    Wireless World: Enormous innovation, but big chall

    A record number of mobile phones were shipped last year, and analysts and investors are now saying that the promises made 10 years ago about the potential for the wireless economy are truly being realized. Still, some of the foremost investors and analysts tell United Press International's Wireless World that they are nervous that the United States may not maintain its competitive edge in the global information economy unless certain changes are made -- by federal policymakers and business leaders -- soon.

    "There is enormous innovation in our economy -- no doubt," said James Melcher, founder of the New York City-based hedge fund, Balestra Capital Management, in an interview with Wireless World. "It's incredible. But there are problems. Why are countries with only 40 percent of the world's population (e.g., China) graduating ten times as many engineers and scientists as we are? Why are our schools pumping out so many lawyers? There is no value-added in legal work." By Gene Koprowski

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    ESD, Jan 29th, 2006 @ 1:31pm

    Think for a second...

    Doesn't anyone realize that there are cell phone signals, radio transmissions, tv transmissions, and every other type of radiation in a hospital and every other place on earth, whether or not there are cell phones around? In order for a cell phone to work, you need transmissions from the tower as well as the phone. If they think cell phones are a threat to equipment, they better ban all radios, televisions, WIFI in the hallways for equipment and computers, and they better put radio wave absorbing panelling in 100% of the walls so no external transmissions can enter the building and disrupt equipment.
    I also think that a Junior Mint should be placed in every single surgical cut and wound to prevent infections.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    WHO?, Jan 29th, 2006 @ 8:19pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    -There is s big difference between reception and interference
    Not really, interferance is unwanted recpetion.
    -Power actually measured in watts. It's the amperage that is dangerous in a human body. High volts or low volts don't matter. It's the amps that kill you.
    Ok so let me be more specific then, You need high voltage low amperage. And Voltage does matter, high enough voltage will cause the bodyfluids to ionize and allow the current levels to rise.
    -Power actually measured in watts. It's the amperage that is dangerous in a human body. High volts or low volts don't matter. It's the amps that kill you.
    IF you actually read more around that quote then you'd relize i was talking about voltage needed for an electromagnetic device to cause harm.
    - actually millions of volts at very high frequencies

    You defanantly show a basic knowledge in electronics but you should work on those reading skills and not take a portion of the quote, unless you want o be like many misguided reporters...
    and once again
    - oh and I appologize for spelling and grammer...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    WHO?, Jan 29th, 2006 @ 8:24pm

    Re: Think for a second...

    You forgot high voltage AC power lines.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Bobby, Jan 29th, 2006 @ 8:59pm

    Re: Think for a second...

    get a life. take five minuts away from the god damn computer

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Dave, Jan 29th, 2006 @ 9:30pm

    Cell Phones in Hospitals

    I am a nurse in intensive care. Yesterday one of our patients was using his cell phone even after being told not to. He was hooked up to a LifePak 5 for prep to IVP in CT room. The monitor showed aberrant PR intervals exacerbated by a bundle branch block inferiorly. The longer he was exposed to the RF frequency from the cell phone the worse the monitor showing, finally dropping down to 16 BPM. As soon as we confiscated the cell phone the heart rate increased into a steady rhythm with eupnea. The LifePak 5 showed no aberrent sequelae after the Nokia was taken into a safe area that dissipated the radio waves from it. Our hospital has decided to ban any and all cellular phones and visitors are regularly checked for them because of this unfortunate accident.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Daniel, Jan 29th, 2006 @ 9:39pm

    Re: They do it here in Japan...

    Sorry to break it do you, but chemical reactions do NOT cause nuclear decay...however, bananas do contain high levels of potassium, and there are quite a few isotopes of potassium that are unstable, and undergo nuclear decay on thier own, having nothing to do with a chemical reaction.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    lizard, Jan 29th, 2006 @ 10:55pm

    last time i was in the e.r...

    the lady in the bed next to me apparently had unlimited night and weekend minutes. she was there with her mother who had had a heart episode, so she was feeling a little bored i guess, and for the three hours i was there, she yakked on her phone to everyone she knew -- old boyfriends, you name it.

    i kept waiting for them to come take her phone away, but no.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Mary, Apr 4th, 2007 @ 3:06pm

    Re: Re: They do it here in Japan...

    by Ryan Ahlborn...tell me Ryan, more about yourself!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    medical software systems, Jun 21st, 2007 @ 10:45am

    medical hospitol communication

    ...little or no impact on equipment, better communication between medical staff and doctors.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2007 @ 1:32am

    great good on you

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    brenda, Oct 8th, 2007 @ 1:39am

    thats wonderful

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Jodiie, Nov 22nd, 2007 @ 1:31am

    mobile phones

    my mobile is my life (y)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This