Mobile phone

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There is some public concern about radiation and mobile phones, especially mobile phone masts.

Radiation exposure from mobile phones greatly exceeds that from masts. Indeed, the radiation from the phone increases to compensate as the signal from the mast decreases, so to reduce exposure from mobile phone radiation, it might be better to have more, rather than fewer masts.

Some people believe that they get symptoms from using a mobile phone. There is no evidence that the symptoms are due to radiation exposure.[1]

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Interference with hospital equipment

This occurs and has the potential to be life threatening with ventilators[2][3] and infusion pumps[4] . Generally the phone will need to be close to the equipment.

The Police and Ambulance service TETRA radio system produces considerably higher levels of EM radiation.

Advice relevant to British Medical Practice

This can be obtained from the MHRA guidance on Mobile communications interference

Use by patients in consultations

According to some reports, patients are increasingly inclined to use mobile phones (to make or receive calls, or to send and receive text messages, emails, or other communications) during medical consultations.

Such behaviour is discourteous not only to the doctor, whose time is being wasted; but also to other patients whose appointments may be delayed.

There are reports of patients complaining when asked to desist from such behaviour. Such reports may put doctors off from responding appropriately. Complaints are easy to handle, however, if there is a policy about this. A practice policy, accompanied by a statement in the practice leaflet, a notice in the waiting room, and/or a statement on the practice web site can prevent problems from complaints. Such a policy might explain that (for example):

The doctor's time is limited, and patients are expected to turn their mobile phone off or to silent while in the room, that if they need to use the phone they should wait until after the consultation, and that if they don't comply, they may be asked to leave and make another appointment, as otherwise it delays the consultation, makes it run late, and wastes other patients' time.

Any patients asked to leave or turn their phone off on this basis, in the presence of such a policy, can be referred to the policy, and any complaints addressed the same way. As long as this is done as politely as possible, the doctor and the practice have no cause for concern.

References

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