I sat in the waiting area of the Women's Health Center of the medical monolith, Cleveland Clinic, in the middle of the afternoon trying to operate my business while waiting for Stacey, a case study in modern medicine, as practiced upon someone with great medical insurance coverage. And so I had to talk on the phone, my cell phone. I turned the ringer off so that I did not bother anyone.
I know I'm going to catch a lot of crap about using my cell phone in a hospital; and don't worry, a sturdy woman in a taupe suit became extraordinarily upset with me when I didn't follow her instructions and end my call immediately. I did apologize and moved about 25 feet to where she told me to sit if I was going to continue using the phone. She moved me to a place where there was a sign, a small sign on the desk nearby, telling me all cell phone use was prohibited because it interferes with sensitive medical devices. In response to my question seeking the reason I was being required to move, she said that I would mess up the mammography equipment. And she didn't tell me in a polite tone, but with a nasty cold-heartedness that meant one of my gender could never understand such important matters.
I moved. I made a bunch of phone calls from my position facing the desk with the sign telling me cell phone use was prohibited. But before I moved at the request of the sturdy, cold-hearted, taupe-suited woman, I did not notice any mammograms being done in the waiting room. I did not see any EKG's, EEG's, or MRI's being performed in the large room. Nobody was on a ventilator. Nobody was ever examined with so much as a stethoscope. There was a guy wearing sunglasses and a Patriots jacket watching the television that broadcast women's health news and the services that the Cleveland Clinic provides to women. That was out of the ordinary.
I don't know about anyone else, but I want to know what is the big deal about using a cell phone in a hospital? Is it going to fuck up somebody's mammogram or screw up someone's EKG? Or cause a nuclear explosion somewhere in the hospital?
Or is using the cell phone in a hospital as dangerous as it is to use a cell phone while pumping gas at the BP station?
The Mayo Clinic found that after using 17 different kinds of cell phones in 526 tests, the most serious interference occurred when a phone was held one or two inches from unshielded external cardiopulmonary monitoring devices. In 7% of the tests, the interpretation of the data might have been affected adversely.
In one reported instance, a mechanical ventilator stopped momentarily and then restarted when a cell phone was held inside of two inches from a com port on the ventilator.
Cell phones used within three feet of EKG tests, at times, caused some disturbance in the tracings; but beyond that distance, no problem was detected at all. This EKG interference accounted for most of the 4% interference rate within 36 inches that was caused by cell phones. Handsets, like the walkie-talkies or two-way radios used in ambulances on the way to the hospital, caused interference in 41% of medical devices, like the EKG devices and ventilators used in ambulances.
Interference with pacemakers has been documented, but that interference may occur if the phone is used within four inches of the pacemaker. The phone's signal might create a situation in which the pacemaker increases the pace of the heart's ventricles. When the phone signal ends, so does the misinterpretation by the pacemaker. The same type of interference occurs much more often with emergency personnel's radios.
There have been no reports of life-threatening interference with medical equipment by cell phones. The FCC does not ban cell phones from hospitals.
What does all this mean? It means that the lady in the taupe suit should be more polite. Moreover, she should get rid of that butt-ugly suit.Posted by Bill at March 15, 2005 11:51 PM