The pros and cons of smartphone use in the OR

Smartphones in the operating room can both be a help and a hinder--doctors can use them to view patient information and lab results, but can also easily be distracted by the devices.

Currently, there are no measures or federal regulations in place that address the use of phones in a healthcare setting, according to an article in The Atlantic.

However, the use of the devices has caused controversy in some cases, the article adds, including an incident in 2011 where an anesthesiologist was accused of using a phone when monitoring a patient; the distracted doctor failed to see the oxygen levels drop for the patient, who died during surgery.

"Sometimes it's just stuff like shopping online or checking Facebook," Dwight Burney, an orthopedic surgeon from Albuquerque, says in the article. "The problem is that it does lead to distraction."

Another issue with healthcare professionals tapping their own devices during the workday is security. When doctors use their own devices for work purposes, privacy of patient information has to be a top focus, with organizations implementing training for the mobile device user and adopting stronger security technology and policies, FierceMobileHealthcare previously reported.

This is especially important as the use of personal devices increases in healthcare. A majority of nurses who responded to a recent survey say they are using their own tablets, mobile phones and other similar tools daily at work.

Some hospitals are taking it into their own hands to curb the use of personal devices. For example, the article states that the University of Rochester Medical Center has requirements that staff keep phones on silent when with patients and forbids the use of devices while physicians are at clinical work stations and in operating rooms.

At the same time, the tools can enable doctors to access information on a patient or to get in touch with colleagues during a surgery.

To learn more:
- read the article