Ask yourself this question: If you were having surgery tomorrow, you would not expect your surgical team members to be checking their smart phones for texts and sending emails in your operating room, right? Having personal mobile devices in a surgical suite introduces a new distraction in an already complex, noisy, high-stakes environment. Rather than assuming that staff will not get the universal urge to check their latest updates, you can develop formal, written guidelines for the use of personal devices. Why? In order to:
- Clarify specific performance expectations, and when/how instances of noncompliance should be reported and addressed; and
- Emphasize that patient safety is the highest priority at all times.
Choosing the Right Risk Mitigation Strategy
Healthcare leaders who decide to limit use of personal mobile devices during work hours have multiple things to consider, including patient safety and the impact these guidelines may have on employee workflow.
One approach might include provisions such as prohibiting all personnel from bringing their personal devices into a surgical suite for high-risk cases that meet one or more of the following criteria, such as:
- All “emergency” (non-elective) cases
- Organ transplant cases
- All cases involving patients with an American Society of Anesthesiologists classification of IV or higher
- Interventional radiology and cardiac procedures (diagnostic and therapeutic)
- Cases that require the services of a perfusionist
- Cases that are likely to require more than a specified number of hours to complete
- Cases in which the transfusion of blood products is anticipated or becomes necessary
Another more restrictive option is to implement a formalized, written policy that prohibits all perioperative personnel (providers with surgical or anesthesia privileges, nurses, techs and independent contractors) from bringing their personal mobile devices into the operating room or any other rooms where invasive procedures are performed. That means they must store their devices in a locker or wherever they keep their other belongings. If someone urgently needs to reach a member of a perioperative team during a procedure, he or she may call the main desk and request that the call be put through to the room where the intended recipient is located.
Regardless of the approach that you choose, the most important factor to remember is that no policy will be successful unless it is enforced. If the healthcare organization establishes guidelines now, it may prevent an accident from happening later.
Learn more about the danger of personal mobile devices in the surgical suite by reading my full article in PSQH magazine. The article is located on page 44.
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