Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Do hospitals have a reason for banning cell phones, or is it just to enforce good manners?

Who's asking: My sister Peggy

Most hospitals ban cell phones for the same reason that airplanes ban cell phones: the possibility that signals from the cell phones might cause radio frequency interference (RFI) with the hospital's internal communications and electronic systems. A study conducted in 2001, for example, found that holding a cell phone close to a pacemaker disrupted the pacemaker's function.

As with airplanes, improvements in wireless technology have lowered these risks. It's probably safe to use a cell phone in most hospitals nowadays -- but why take a chance?

If a cell phone does interfere with a building or an aircraft's telemetry, it does so whether or not you're talking on it. What matters is whether or not the phone is switched on. Cell phones in standby mode are still transmitting and receiving signals. When the sign says, "CELL PHONE USE PROHIBITED," turn it off, don't just switch it to vibrate. Take my word for it: you're not that important.

Dad might be getting out of Maine General this afternoon -- hurray! -- and then he can use his cell phone as much as he likes.

And a very happy birthday today to Frau Susanne Schulz, recently returned from her jet-set vacation. We miss you here in Maine, Sue.


Anonymous said...

ta luvey! Had a wonderful time and great seeing you (FINALLY!--after just missing you 2 years ago).

Now it's your turn for another bad weather visit to Europe--we'll be waiting!

"woof" to Diz.

Anonymous said...

ps I like the new logo and the color combination of the new blog---nice going and welcome back!

Michael Wicinski said...

Hospitals were once only exceeded by a quiet behavior mindset by the library. As we all know, cell phones & talking in a hushed voice mix nearly as well as oil and water. Besides, if two loud talking cell-phoners were to square off in a hospital there would be an unneeded use of at least another bed in the facility. Why can't we all learn to cell together harmoniously?

Anonymous said...

Cell phones on planes do not interfere with the aircraft's navigation system. The real reason we're all asked to turn them off is that they interfere with mobile network on the ground. On each flight several phones are accidentally left turned on, so if they really did cause RFI, they'd be banned from the cabin like the liquids and lotions recently added to the list of prohibited items.

In early 2007, in-flight calling with the Veritas fleet will begin. The prospect of taking a cut of the sky-high calling charges will miraculously cause any safety concerns about mobile phones on plane to evaporate from that pre-flight safety announcement.

Further details of an honest pre-flight announcement to be found in this weeks Economist Magazine.

Tired in Singapore.