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Survey: Nurses back ward mobile bans


The majority of nurses believe that hospital nurses should be banned from using their own mobile phone and similar devices on the wards, despite the explosion in the availability and functions of smartphones.

More and more health professionals have access to a smartphone that could potentially help with drug calculations and other clinical information, as well as communication with colleagues. However, they also pose a distraction from patient care and possibly an infection control risk.

Of the 2,147 survey respondents who answered a question on the issue, 57% said hospital staff should not be allowed to use their own mobile phone on the wards. This compared to 26% who thought it was OK and 17% who said they were “unsure”.

Guidance published by the Royal College of Nursing in August 2012 warned nurses to be aware of the risks of breaching patient confidentiality when using smartphone applications to make clinical decisions or record and send patient information.

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Readers' comments (17)

  • 2,147 respondents? Staff, visitors or relatives?

    As a student nurse I have been encouraged to use my smartphone for drug calculations on wards and in the community. I also use several apps for anatomy and physiology to keep myself up to date when in practice and as a reminder.

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  • The majority of nurses believe we are underpaid. Can't see that changing anytime soon.

    Lets be honest, those against (and remember we don't know who they were) are probably not aware of exactly how versatile a piece of kit the smartphone can be and not just a link to Facebook*

    *Other social media sites are available - believe it or not!

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  • If work wants apps + technology to be implemented at work, they can provide them gratis to staff for work purposes only.
    Shouldn't have to use your own tools Some people already have to wash their own uniform in hot wash, bring in own food/drink, pay towards own car/travel use for work, and staying on during your breaks + after work to complete admin/paperwork. Next you'll be doing some of this from home, with your own IT access.

    So issue staff with tablets/notepads, loaded with different recommended applications + tools for your job. The camera for documenting wounds/injuries etc can be useful. Keep work stuff for work, personal stuff separate.
    Could be locked for access certain functions only within the work environment + networks. Encryption and locks implemented for security.
    Could have built in tracker (big-brother gps + wireless location) to let IT security know where device is.

    Doctors are some of the biggest culprits of bringing in their own gadgets, and if you could swab and culture their kit, you'd probably freak out. Though they're better paid and less likely to lose registration unlike nurses, if recent sackings are anything to go by from the news in the media.

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  • no....not change....we fear change my precioussss.....We don't want 'photographs of wounds' or better communication do we?

    its all "probably" and "could" and "might", so lets not risk it (patient confidentiality, distraction, computer virus, armagedon etc...)

    FFS. According to this article, Its all big brother from them up top. Let nurses make the decisions and let them/us run with things and not only will staff 'own' what they do but they might also have a good idea or two.

    This piece has a very misleading title. In all fairness, 2147 respondants hardly can be called "the majority of nurses".

    There are probably lots of nurses (like myself) who read articles like this one and think,"WTF are you on about? We/I/my team don't hold this outdated viewpoint".

    Steve Ford - you gotta make it more clear in the Title, what it is you are on about.

    The title "Survey: Nurses back ward mobile bans" SHOULD read,
    "Survey: A lot of the Nurses who we asked in our small study back ward mobile bans where they work (our sample group comprised of nurses who are on the cusp of retirement and had just been introduced to Microsoft products last week, but weren't sure about them saying they 'feared them' and they looked 'complicated' and would never catch on)"

    I know - my great Grandmother was part of the survey (taken in March 1983).


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  • Flippant.

    But true, he's got a point.

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  • I think it's a good idea for a nurse to have their phones. Have we all forgotten nurses are human? What if there is an emergency call from home? Classic example of an ill child?

    How about break times, where we should relax and listen to classical music on times of reflection? It's also the best tool to use for drag calculations and fast tool to check on latest policies by CQC and other frameworks/bench marks .

    I think they should be some flexibility not discriminating nurses with dyslexia/dyspraxia.

    As long as the phone is used with modest i think it should be allowed.

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  • If technology is to be used in the workplace then it should be standardised and provided. If you are using your own device, then personal use cannot be ruled out. A colleague, recently retired, was visiting a friend on a ward recently, and was disgusted hearing nurses chuckling around a mobile phone while patient needs were going unnoticed or ignored. That doesn't do our professional status any favours. It may be that this only happens occasionally, but it leaves a lasting impression, and tars us all with the same brush

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  • Mobile phones should be banned whilst in work, as it causes a distraction for the nurse. It also means that we rely more and more on technology and lose the natural ability to remember stuff, and to do drug calculations with a pen and paper or our heads.

    Patient care comes first, and personally, I'd rather sit with the patient and talk, then sit in a corner with the phone under the desk 'pretending' to look at apps as I have seen many do. If there is a need for apps etc in the workplace, then a tablet should be in each ward with all the appropriate apps that need to be used.

    Mobile phones cause distractions. There is already enough bad press around, without including more!

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  • Nurses should be nursing patients not looking things up on A&P or drug calculation apps - that is learning that should have been done in a classroom during your marvellous degree course - now is the time for practicing how to communicate,care etc which you certainly don't learn in a classroom and if you want to know the other things that badly you can look them up when you get home - but you won't! As for the idea that someone needs a mobile in their pocket in case their child is sick? - please get a grip! Wards still have landlines don't they?! And yes I am of a certain age but perfectly competent with technology of any sort - but there is no place for it at the bedside, it's just a rude and unnecessary distraction.

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  • Anonymous | 1-Oct-2013 6:16 pm

    How on earth can you learn everything about anatomy in 3 years? Only the other day a patient asked me to explain in great detail how the respiratory system worked as they were trying to understand their illness. I am not a machine that can just regurgitate facts stored in my brain. Using a book/resources I explained to her what she wanted to know and showed her on her laptop some good videos to explain how the system works. And why wouldn't you look stuff up when you get home?

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