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Doctors need to stay “connected” as part of our job. We need to be available for our patients, hospital staff and families.
In the past, I remember lugging around an inconvenient bundle of a cell phone, pager, Palm Pilot and keys everywhere I went. But now, thanks to technology, it’s all on my smartphone.
So imagine my surprise when I heard that a World Health Organization panel classified cell phones as “possibly carcinogenic.”
This isn’t the first time mobile phones have been assaulted. In fact, the WHO didn’t do any new research to come to this conclusion, it just reviewed previous studies on radio frequency and magnetic fields.
The conclusion was based largely on epidemiological data linking a rare form of brain cancer to heavy cell phone use.
That being said, I don’t get too alarmed about these panic headlines because, all too often, another study comes out months later contradicting the previous findings.
Health researchers still can’t agree on what foods I should consume, how many glasses of red wine I should drink a day or how much dark chocolate I should force myself to eat.
But what if this whole cell phone cancer thing really caught on? Maybe public health would improve; or at least emergency rooms might be less crowded.
My son would certainly have not rear-ended that nice lady on I-64 as he reached for his phone.
There might be fewer people walking out into traffic engaged in deep conversation only to be struck by the distracted driver, phone pressed firmly to his ear. Maybe some good could come from this finding.
But in fact, it appears that as dangerous as using our mobile phones might be, the device itself may be even more deadly! A new study suggests dangerous bacteria such as MRSA could be clinging to the cell phones of hospital patients and their visitors.
These findings come as some regions in the U.S. are targeting healthcare workers’ apparel and accessories – including ties, lab coats and stethoscopes – as potential sources of infection.
The study finds that nearly 40 percent of phones used by patients and their visitors tested positive for bacterial pathogens; 10 percent tested positive for MRSA.
By comparison, 20 percent of healthcare workers’ cell phones tested positive for pathogens, but none carried MRSA.
Could it be that our smartphones came with more features that we anticipated?
Matt McDanald M.D. is an obstetrician/gynecologist with Tri-County OB/GYN Associates in La Grange and chief medical officer at Baptist Hospital Northeast. He can be reached at (502) 222-5558. The views in this column are those of the writer.