'Cell phones may interfere with equipment'

So says this admonition in numerous convenience stores. These are inside the stores (so I have no reason to believe it’s related to the gas fumes/KABOOM scare), and it is warning you not to use it inside for fear of “interference.”

So exactly might these insidious invisible rays be doing that’s causing the concern?

The biggest interference I see is that it’s easier for the clerk to get distracted while someone is jabbering away.

I’ve seen this admonition in a few places. They have on a lot of machines in the ICU. This usually doesn’t stop the cqardiologists from talking on the cell anyway. I don’t think it makes much difference.

In a cardiology ward, you have to be worried about pacemakers and heart-lung machines. Most cell phones do not bother those things. Most of those machines are not bothered by cell phones. But maybe one of those cell phones has just the wrong harmonic interference. Maybe one of those machines is sensitive in just the wrong way. If a patient dies from some yahoo’s phone call, everyone gets sued. A lawsuit is more expensive than a few signs and uptight rules, so those signs and rules exist and cell phones are banned in certain places.

  1. In gas stations, it is primarily to avoid the distraction of the person jabbering away. The station fears that if jabberer gets hit by another vehicle, they could sue. Same reason the cell-phone instructions state this.

  2. Actually, your cell-phone could cause an explosion. This will not occur at a gas station, however, but in a blasting zone. Even if it is not being used, your cell-phones send out a signal. (If it’s on) Explosive charges are set off by radio signals, and although I know of no cases of a cell-phone setting off charges accidently, UHF two-way radios (the kind used by construction crews) have been known to do this. This is why you sometimes see signs that say “ALL two-way radios, CBs, and cell-phones MUST BE TURNED OFF!” along the highway if there is blasting or mining nearby.

I’ve heard about the theoretical pacemaker risk. Presumably so have the cardiologists inthe ICU. I’ve also seen just how concerned they are in practice, ie. not much.

There is a local pool hall/bar in town that has about 10 projection TVs. Whenever someone uses a cell phone, it sets off a terrible buzz in the audio of all the TV units. You simply look around till you find the offender. When they’re done…poof…the buzzing stops.

Last year an Executive Jet crashed just after taking off from an air-field in Switzerland.The preliminary crash findings are that the probable cause of the crash was one of the passengers using a cell phone and causing interferance with the plane’s electronics.
I work in the natural gas industry and we are not allowed to use our cell phones in hazardous areas .this is not because of the radio energy but because the phone battery can cause sparks and set off an explosion. This ,I think, is the reason why they are banned in filling stations.

Derleth -

In a hospital, if you ask “why . . .”, the answer usually is a combination of $$$ or that JCAHO (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations) requires it. JCAHO does in fact require either that cell phone use be banned in certain areas of the hospital, or document that all kinds of cell phones which could ever be used by people entering these sensitive areas do not interfere with equipment. Virtually every hospital elects to put up signs banning cell phones (can’t use them; can’t leave them on to receive calls) in sensitive areas. The nurses selectively enforce the rules against patients & visitors, and ignore the docs unless JCAHO is actually at the hospital.

It is not really pacemakers, or breathing machines, or IV pumps, or other machines that are actually delivering care to patients that are susceptible to interference from cell phones, but the monitoring equipment. In ICUs, all patients have their heart rate and rhythm monitored. Sometimes this is with electrodes connected by wires to the monitors; often it is to a walkman-sized gadget that transmits the signal by radio waves to a bank of monitors at the nurses’ station. These telemetry units are quite susceptible to interference.

A secondary concern is that since oxygen is in widespread use throughout an ICU, that flammability might prove a problem, just as described above for gas stations.

At my hospital, the nurses actually carry cell phones, and give the patients the number so a patient can call from the bedside and not have to use the buzzer. As you might imagine, the nurses just “love” it. :stuck_out_tongue:

The only thing I can figure is that these phones do not interefere with pacemakers, monitors and the like.

The other thing our nurses carry is something they like to call “Big Brother”. It is a homing device which tracks their whereabouts all over the hospital and how much time they spend in any one location

If hospitals provide the cell phones, it is a relatively easy thing to prove that the frequency used by that particular set of phones does not interfere with the patient care equipment. It is much more difficult to prove that no cell phones in use by the general public could possibly interfere with the equipment.

Regarding the 7-11 type stores - it may the transmission of information from the pump to the store that cell phones could interfere with, but that is strictly a guess.

That big brother thingie sounds awful! I don’t even want to imagine what they do if some nurse actually went to the bathroom three times instead of his/her allotted two trips per shift!

I’ve wondered about this myself… the largest hospital near me (if it’s like the others I’ve been to recently) bans cell phones, but has no less than THREE competing cell-phone sites on its property. Excuse me? Is something wrong with this picture?

Actually, there is nothing wrong with this picture. It’s an issue of proximity. Most hospitals are filled with areas that are remarkably well shielded from the outside world. That is to say, the walls, ceiling and floors are more than the standard issue materials. In addition to the MRI areas, other areas are well shielded. So, having three cell towers on the property is almost meaningless. Almost.

Having one person, with by awful luck the matching frequency to a pacemaker, WALKING BY a room in the CICU ward, is much more likely. As mentioned above, cellular phones are passively transmitting devices. They are ALWAYS transmitting, and always recieving. They catch voicemail reminders within seconds of the mail being left. They relay roaming and tower signal and switch data incessantly. They are truly always generating information. Therein lays the danger.

And, for those posters who have seen Doctors using cellular phones in areas where they are banned? Drop the dime and call OSHA, or the state DOH. They either obey the rules like everyone else, or saw their bones elsewhere. The whole M-Diety thing makes me gag. :frowning: