surgical association warns about the risks of cellphones in the or

Most of us wouldn’t think twice about bringing our cellphones to work, regularly accessing them in workstations, conference rooms and lecture halls. Things are a bit different for medical professionals, however, as exam rooms, patient suites and, of course, operating rooms may not be the best places for these devices.

Indeed, the Council on Surgical & Perioperative Safety — a multidisciplinary and influential coalition whose members include the American College of Surgeons, the American Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses, and the American Society of Anesthesiologists, among others — recently released a new resource chart designed to raise awareness about the risks associated with cellphones in the OR.

Specifically, CSPS’ chart highlights three ways in which cellphones can present patient safety risks in the OR and encourages a team approach to help neutralize these risks:

  1. Noise and distraction: Cellphones in the OR can disrupt the silence that surgical team members need to communicate with one another and/or concentrate on the procedure at hand.
  2. Infection control: Cellphones in the OR may bring in outside bacteria that can compromise the otherwise sterile environment and/or jeopardize the patient’s health.
  3. Privacy concerns: Cellphones in the OR can present very real privacy concerns given that it could lead to the sharing of otherwise protected patient data via call, text messages or photos.

While the CSPS stops short of calling for an outright ban on these devices in the OR, it would nevertheless seem as if this would be the most prudent step to take given the patient hazards outlined above.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Do you think members of a surgical team should be required to leave their cellphones behind when they scrub in?

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