March 15, 2005

The Lady in the Taupe Suit

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

I've been wondering about this one for a while. I don't think it's as bad as they thought it would be. Cell phone technology has improved so much in recent years.
At Olivier's orthodontist we are asked to turn our phones off. All the bimbo assistants seem to spend 90% of their time yakking into their phones.

Posted by: Anji at March 16, 2005 06:04 AM

all the nurses in the hospital had cell phones they'd answer when they came into my room. but could i have my cell phone to make MY calls? the hospital phone would not allow me to call my house or my kids (different area code).

Posted by: stacey at March 16, 2005 09:33 AM

Put down that cellphone!
Okay, I wont make a peep.
My taupe suit scared you.

Posted by: Suzette at March 16, 2005 09:59 AM

Suzette is moving beyond wench into the B-word category. And yes, yes it's true: I'm jealous I didn't think of a train haiku first. Now this!

My momma didn't raise no quitter. The best is yet to come!!!

Posted by: lucy at March 16, 2005 01:24 PM

Call me the b word.
Or queen of peepku comments.
I liked wench better.

Posted by: Suzette at March 16, 2005 05:16 PM

Remember my experience at UPMC Presbyterian in Pittsburgh? The man that yelled at me told me I was going to kill his wife if I didn't get off of the phone RIGHT NOW!!! Right down the street from Presby is UPMC Magee Women's Hosp. and all of their nurses walk around with cell phones in their pockets. That is how they communicate with each other, the nursery, other floors, etc. Explain that!

Posted by: Sue at March 17, 2005 10:23 AM

Plenty more where that
came from, Suzette. Don't mess with
this Peeps-loving chick!

Posted by: lucy at March 17, 2005 01:09 PM

Oh good grief. You're STILL AT IT!??? ;) Bill, will you announce a winner already and put these two (and us) out of their misery?

Posted by: Keri at March 18, 2005 08:01 AM

THIS SOUNDS LIKE A JOB FOR THE MYTHBUSTERS!!!! Quick someone email Adam and Jamie!! they need to test this bitch out so bill has some ammo!

You need to print that Mayo Clinic study result on a piece of paper and tape it to your forehead when you're sitting in the waiting room and then ask "am I sitting within a few inches of unshielded equipment? No? Then feg off."

Posted by: christine at March 20, 2005 08:08 AM

I think they want you to .want. to leave the hospital.

Posted by: anon at March 21, 2005 12:32 AM