Monday, December 2, 2013

Hold On, I'm On the Phone!

This week a friend told me that their hospital policy is that employees are not to be talking on their cell phones in the hallways of the hospital.  I can kind of see the point, I guess, that patients and visitors will feel like the employees are not working and even though the employee might be on a break, the patient/visitor won't know that.

On the other hand, what if the employee has a family issue going on and wants to check in while heading to lunch or out the door?  Maybe being in touch by phone is the only way the person felt comfortable coming to work instead of staying home. I'm not sure it's a big deal for the employee to make a quick call.

What do you think about nurses carrying cell phones in their pockets?  I doubt that there are many institutions that encourage this practice, I bet most have policies against it.  Yet, I know that many, many nurses carry their cell phones in their pockets during work.

I have mixed feelings.  I really do not like it when I'm running around like crazy and another nurse is sitting at the nurses station surfing and texting on her cell phone.  However, I don't think the phone is really the problem; she probably wouldn't be helping out regardless if she had it with her or not.

When I worked at a rural hospital and there were only two nurses in the whole place at night or on the weekend, I thought it was a good idea for the nurses to have their cell phones on them.  If something bad happened like a fire, weather emergency, an intruder, or they simply had to be in different parts of the hospital, having a cell phone in hand would allow them to call for outside help or just call each other quickly.

I remember when hospital computers were not allowed access to the Internet because it was felt that employees would just sit around and surf.  Then hospital leaders realized that there's good stuff on the Internet that can be helpful in caring for patients.  I think it's kind of the same thing with cell phones.  Instead of continuing to "ban" them, we will have to figure out how to use them appropriately in patient care areas.  Like the Internet, cell phones have some use in patient care.  Calculators, apps for smartphones that provide drug information, and a camera because has anyone actually seen that camera the manager bought for the unit since the day after she got it?

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