Fact: Most hospitals in the US ban the use of cellphones in patient care settings because of the widely held belief that cellphones interfere with medical devices and other networks within the patient care setting. Reality: It turns out that’s an unproven assertion that a NYT report even calls a myth.
I don’t know how I missed this article, because this is a game changer, if true.
[Editor's digression: Well, that's assuming that the lawyers didn't get this topic all smothered with questionable but nonetheless actionable stare decisis where cellphone use may have caused something and so is too much an exposure risk to allow clinical use. I say this because I know, for example, the real reason why every US L&D department has fetal monitors and it has little to do with improved maternal-fetal health and a lot to do with case law.]
It potentially touches barcoding and GS1 in an important way, so I felt free to post on it here but it’s truly a much bigger story about better communication, better patients, better care, better collaboration, better barcode reading, better everything.
First, the barcode part: if cellphones are allowed to be used in patient settings, you no longer have to buy, maintain or make available, those hard-to-use handheld, tethered (or wireless) barcode scanners. All of those workflow disasters involving barcodes that we periodicially see in the reports and discuss on this blog, they all . . . vanish. As we’ve posted here before, your cellphone camera can scan barcodes quite easily and very accurately, thank you very much.
Extra plus, of course is that everybody already carries a cellphone. Even if they don’t, the hospital can sign folks up for a family plan and provide free of charge (and often free of hospital expense) cellphones with those handy built-in cameras that can snap any and all manner of barcode symbologies.
The report (“medical myths even doctors believe”) doesn’t cite barcode scanning as a benefit. It cites something even more compelling (and frightening):
In contrast, a large survey of anesthesiologists found that use of cellphones by doctors was associated with a 22 percent reduction in medical error resulting from delays in communication.
If this is true — I don’t believe *everything* I read in the news — it’s high time we dropped the pager and the barcode scanner and used the cellphone. Not only does it do barcodes but you can actually communicate with someone in real-time (unlike the pager).
P.S. Is it “cellphone” or “celphone”? If I use two LL’s, the spell-checker lets me slide but does that mean it’s right or the programmer for that portion of the code had a certain belief about how to spell “celphone”.