Do cell phones interfere with telemetry?

  1. I have heard yes and no on this question. At my hospital, where I work med/surg and ICU prn, we don't allow cell phones to be used inside the hospital. Last weekend I was asked to check each room to see if someone was using a cell phone. A pt had a recent MI and was waiting for transfer when his tele started doing crazy things. The nurse said she sees those kind of waves when cell phones are nearby. I checked and sure enough, someone had their cell phone on. When it was turned off, the pt's tele returned to normal (not sinus, but normal for post MI).

    On the other hand, a friend works at another hospital and the hospital supplies her with a cell phone while at work. I'm assuming that since they have cell phones that it doesn't interfere with their telemetry.

    Our telemetry system is brand new, state of the art. So the question is: does it or doesn't it? From my experience, it does. But plenty of people claim that it doesn't. What's your experience?
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    About bethin

    Joined: Sep '05; Posts: 7,767; Likes: 1,230

    19 Comments

  3. by   TazziRN
    My understanding is that commercial phones can interfere, although it doesn't always happen. Can interfere with pumps too. The newer phones are less likely to do that than older phones, though. As for the ones provided by hospitals, I believe they're a certain type. Stanford provides them for their ER nurses, but pts and visitors cannot use theirs in the building. The ones Stanford issues are the ones that also operate as radios. The ER staff and flights crews use them.
  4. by   hogan4736
    I had thought that the analog (old) phones did interfere, but the digital ones do not
  5. by   bethin
    Quote from hogan4736
    I had thought that the analog (old) phones did interfere, but the digital ones do not
    That's what I thought. But rarely do I see an analog phone. The cell phone that the visitor was using was definitely a new phone - was exactly like mine and I bought it about 3 months ago.
  6. by   Larry77
    Just happen to be at work...asked a couple of the docs...one really into all the techy stuff and they both agree that the old technology cells did interfere but not the newer ones (digital). We still have signs that say no cell phone use and we do enforce it.
  7. by   hogan4736
    I quit enforcing it...signs everywhere, they're likely there because they always were there...kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy...Too many nurses get into power struggles w/ patients and their families over this non-issue...Though it is rude to continue talking on the cell phone when a doc/nurse/tech comes in to give care...
  8. by   KYnightnurse
    Are you sure it is cell phones that your hospital is handing out to the staff? Where I work they hand out cordless phones. No cells allowed in the ICU areas but they are allowed on the general med/surg floors but must be kept at least 3 feet away from the monitors (which aren't telemetry).
  9. by   hogan4736
    I work in a brand new hospital (opened in april)...all the charge nurses, house sups, and dept heads are provided w/ Alltel cell phones (digital)...no interference...

    in my last job, we had (kind of) cordless phones that were tied to a land line...
  10. by   Dalzac
    I have seen them interfer with telemetry, IV pump, and once it messed up a vent, very scary. with the pump it set it to 0 and with the vent It just wiped out the settings
  11. by   gwenith
    There is the thought that analog phones(cordless) are relatively safe while digital are not, anyway here are some links.

    http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/...w10022_fm.html


    http://list.uvm.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=in...ety&D=1&P=8196

    This study suggests that the interference range has fallen from 6 feet to 3 feet with the newer phones

    http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/medi...p?newsid=31867
  12. by   NICU_3_RN
    all i know is i have a new motorola phone and if it's int he car or near my computer or tv and it's receiving a text or a call, buzzing comes from whatever it's near... if it can happen to one it can happen to another.
  13. by   Tweety
    Ten years ago cell phones were banned, now they are not. I'm not sure of the rationale, but it doesn't interfere with telemetry where I work.
  14. by   PHM
    I used to get hung up on this also. I agree also that when you try to enforce, families/patients become irritated, supers won't back you up, as well, but no harm telling them anyway and document it to cover your butt.

    My research a couple of years ago found that they did interfere with the older vents, but no longer. Didn't hear about pump problems, but we've noticed they WILL cause interference on our EKG machines if one's even turned on in the same room.

    I also concluded that with all the MDs walking the hallways talking on cels they must know something we don't.

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