WINDHOEK: The Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Services says cellphone use by medical staff in operating theatres and during ward rounds is a big concern for the ministry.
Dr Norbert Forster said this while giving feedback on ministerial directives during the ‘enlarged ministerial management meeting’ held here on Wednesday, saying the concern came to the fore during last year’s meeting.
The objective of the ministerial management meeting is to set the ministry’s priorities for the year and to reflect on its experiences over the past year.
The meeting was attended by under-secretaries, directors, deputy directors and regional directors in the health sector, as well as medical superintendents, chief medical officers and hospital managers.
“Cellphones ring in operating theatres, nurses disappear when they receive calls during doctors’ rounds of the wards, and even patients respond to calls while they are in consulting rooms,” Forster stated.
The Deputy Permanent Secretary said there is a need for some etiquette to manage this problem in a way which is conducive for all parties involved.
He said some of the suggestions brought forward during last year’s meeting were that nobody should carry or respond to cellphones while in the operating room and under no circumstances should nurses leave doctors alone during ward rounds to answer calls.
“Out-patient department consulting rooms must have information on doors prohibiting the use of cellphones by patients while inside the consulting rooms,” Forster said.
He said in-patients must also be informed by nurses when admitted that the use of cellphones while doctors do their rounds is prohibited.
Forster said it is important that the health sector comes to a point where it can prioritise the treatment and care of patients above other communications that may be going on.