National

Half of hospitals consider allowing patients to use cell phones

Kyodo

About 80 percent of hospitals ban the use of mobile phones on their premises, but more than 50 percent are considering allowing their use in the future to serve the needs of patients, according to a survey by Kyodo News.

The survey, released this week, covered 123 medical institutions nationwide, including university hospitals and large hospitals with more than 700 beds. The poll found that 99 institutions totally ban use of mobile phones within hospital buildings, while 24 said they allow their use in designated areas.

Some, including Kyushu University Hospital in Fukuoka and Seirei Hamamatsu Hospital in Shizuoka Prefecture, allow mobile phones to be used in most areas excluding intensive care units and operating theaters.

Among institutions imposing a total ban on mobile phones within their premises, 51 institutions said they may review the ban to better serve the needs of their patients.

Some hospitals noted concerns that the electromagnetic waves emitted by mobile phones could cause such devices as pacemakers to malfunction, and said they will start considering lifting their ban if such concerns are allayed.

However, 32 facilities said they have no plan to lift their bans, because they want to maintain a quiet environment and because there is no proof electromagnetic waves are totally harmless.

Eight facilities said they have experienced trouble related to mobile phone use. Seven complained of inconsiderate use of cell phones, while one said medical devices malfunctioned because of electromagnetic waves from phones.

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