Residents and attendings have divergent attitudes toward smartphone use during inpatient attending rounds, according to a researcher studying the topic.
Rachel Katz-Sidlow, MD, department of pediatrics, Jacobi Medical Center, Bronx, N.Y., is looking into the potential disadvantages of the phones if users are sending or receiving texts, emails, or pictures during rounds. Her preliminary research shows that a majority of faculty members believe a policy should be put in place to codify smartphone use.
“I truly think that policies to regulate smartphone use during patient management sessions are necessary, and will become commonplace in the near future until there are technology-driven solutions put into place,” says Dr. Katz-Sidlow.
Her research, currently in peer review for publication in the Journal of Hospital Medicine, comes as the ubiquity of smartphone technology has begun to be questioned by observers in the mainstream media. She says the majority of attendings and residents who responded to her initial questioning agree that smartphones “can be a serious source of distraction” during rounds.
The policy Dr. Katz-Sidlow is testing at Jacobi Medical Center defines a “smartphone” as any personal mobile communication device, including basic cellphones, Internet-enabled cellphones, and tablet computers. The beta policy restricts smartphone use during rounds to patient-care tasks, and would require all team members’ devices to be silenced or turned off at the beginning of rounds.
“Smartphones are here to stay and will become even more common in the future,” says Dr. Katz-Sidlow. “They’re such a valuable tool in medical education and patient care … but there needs to be balance.”