Cell phones have long been banished from hospitals over fears of interference with medical devices. A study by a Yale anesthesiologist and colleagues, however, suggests that mobile phones speed communications and reduce medical errors. And digital phones rarely cause interference.
For a study published in Anesthesia & Analgesia in February, Keith J. Ruskin, M.D., associate professor of anesthesiology and neurosurgery, surveyed attendees at the 2003 meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. Based on more than 4,000 responses, Ruskin found that 65 percent of anesthesiologists relied on pagers to communicate and 17 percent used cell phones. Of those who used pagers, 45 percent reported delays in communications. Only 31 percent of those who relied on cell phones reported delays.