I Have To Take This
A nurse in a patient's room hears a ringtone from her pocket. A lab tech crossmatching blood hears her cell phone ring from the break room. And a lab manager's phone rings during a job interview. Incredibly, in each case the cell phone is answered. "I have to take this," the person explains.
The wisdom that cell phones interfere with medical equipment such as pacemakers is seldom questioned. But even if your hospital enforces a ban for nurses, doctors may ignore it. Cell phones are ubiquitous, small and difficult to eliminate. Sooner or later, a "have to" situation arises.
The Mayo Clinic has challenged electromagnetic interference, finding no problems in a 5-month study of normal cell phone usage in patient rooms, prompting some hospitals to relax their restrictions on cell phones. So, can we answer them, after all?
No. Of course not, which may puzzle those addicted to constant connection. Even President Obama needs his BlackBerry to avoid "getting stuck in a bubble," according to White House press secretary Robert Gibbs.
The real reason not to answer a cell phone while at work is the same reason we don't curse aloud in church: it's rude and disruptive. We are paid to give our jobs undivided attention, which is difficult enough in the best circumstances. Patients always deserve our best. How ironic that they seem to be the only ones not calling us.
And there's something, well, arrogant about answering a cell phone in another's company. Are we all so important that our job and the attention of others is optional? Must be nice.
That seems harsh, I know. But how many nurses in your hospital carry their cell phones everywhere? How many meetings are interrupted by a cell phone ringing? Has your boss answered his cell phone during your performance evaluation? I barely notice these kind of events anymore, which doesn't make them right.
One thing's for sure, I think. No one taking care of a patient needs a cell phone. If your house catches fire, you can always be paged.