Department of Health regulators have increased the likelihood of an end to mobile phone bans in hospitals with new guidance advising that limited use of mobiles does not pose a risk to patient safety.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has told hospitals to balance the need for better communications within hospitals with the potential risks that mobile phones pose to some medical equipment.
The use of mobile phones could improve hospital care by enhancing staff communication, without compromising patient safety, said professor Kent Woods, chief executive of the MHRA.
"Some mobile devices can cause interference with critical medical equipment and it is important these are turned off where a risk exists," he said in a statement.
"However, there is no reason why mobile technology can't be used in designated areas of hospitals where there is little or no risk of interference with critical medical equipment."
The new guidance recommends that hospitals should:
- identify staff to manage how mobile technology is used within the hospital and to identify interference risks;
- consider designating 'safe' areas for staff and visitors to use mobile phones;
- issue mobile wireless systems with a low interference risk (such as wireless networking technology) to doctors and other hospital staff.
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