Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cell phones in the emergency department

Ok here's another rant.

Everyone in the ED has a cell phone. Everytime I walk into a room the patient or the parent is on the phone and says "I'll call you back- they're here now" or something like that. I leave and come back in the room and they're on the phone again. They hang up and the phone rings again. I try to hold down their screaming kid so I can examine them and the parent is on the phone or texting. I try to go over discharge instructions and they are often done with the parent chatting on the phone and only half paying attention to what I am saying.

Do you really have that much to say?

I have stood in front of parents and said "I need to talk to you" and they still don't hang up right away.
I have asked patients to hang up the phone so I can examine them and they sometimes don't hang up right away. I actually had a teenager tell me once she wasn't going to hang up because she was on 3 way with her friends because they wanted to see if she was ok (she was of course in the emergency department!). I told her she was in the emergency department for a reason and if she wanted me to figure out if she was ok she needed to hang up the phone so I could talk to her. She reluctantly did. I finished my exam, walked out of the room to get something and walked back in 2 minutes later to find her on the phone again. I have had family members calling my patient on the phone repeatedly to find out "what the doctor was saying" when the nurse practitioner was standing in front of them unable to examine them because they kept answering their phone.

I have a cell phone and use it when I need it but I just don't get why it is necessary to spend the entire time in the ED on the phone. It can be a time of high stress where you need to update family members on the situation but this is not what most people are doing when they are on the phone in the ED.

Please use some consideration and hang up the phone when the provider comes into the room.. you came to see us because you needed help so let us help you!!

Ok rant done now.

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  1. How frustrating! I thought cell phones are not even allowed in hospitals?

  2. Don't I wish..
    Actually they used to say they interfered with monitors but I don't think that's actually true. We actually use wireless phones in our pockets to communicate with each other in the ED sometimes.