Patients, Visitors & The Public

Using a mobile phone in hospital

I’m a patient or service user - what does this mean for me?

Here at the Countess of Chester Hospital, we want to encourage patients to use their mobile devices to be able to keep in touch with their friends and family whilst at the Hospital.  It’s an important way of keeping in touch and making use of online resources like the NHS app.

However, It’s important that when you use your mobile device in hospital you’re careful not to:

  • Take anyone’s photo without permission, including staff or people in the background of your photos e.g. in busy waiting areas. It is important to remember that taking a photo or video could breach another patient’s privacy and cause them distress.
  • Make video calls in a way that means the other person can see any other patients, visitors or staff members.
  • Make calls or use your phone in a way that disturbs other patients.
  • Use your mobile device around sensitive equipment where there is a particularly high risk of interference. Signs will make it clear that you shouldn’t use your phone in that area. Switch it off or enable ‘airplane mode’. Do not just leave the device on the silent or vibrate setting as it could still affect medical equipment.

I work in a health and care organisation - what does this mean for me?

This guidance specifically considers the use of mobile devices by patients and visitors. The same principles apply to staff using a personal mobile device, which is referenced in our Trusts’ Mobile Device Policy (found on the COCH Intranet) but the purpose of this guidance is to help you support patients’ use of mobile devices.

There are many benefits for patients that arise from encouraging them to use mobile devices:

  • Communication with family and friends - often an essential element of support and comfort for a patient admitted to hospital.
  • Accessing helpful information about their conditions – apps and digital services can support greater patient participation, inform joint decision-making, and allow patients to provide feedback on their outcomes and experiences.
  • Recording conversations – doing so can help reduce anxiety for patients trying to remember and understand what was said. It also allows them to share the information later with their loved ones and carers. As a matter of good practice, the patient/service user should inform you if they plan to record the conversation and out of politeness ask if you are OK with this.

Mobile devices can be used safely in hospitals. You can support patients to use their mobile devices appropriately as follows:

  • Ask patients to respect people’s privacy if they look like they are taking photos without permission, e.g. of staff or other patients in the background.
  • Speak to patients if the use of their mobile device is disturbing others e.g. if it is interrupting care provision, creating unacceptable working conditions for colleagues or undermining patient comfort and recuperation.
  • Ask patients to switch off their phones or enable airplane mode if you see them using phones in an area where mobile devices are not permitted e.g. around sensitive equipment where there is a particularly high risk of interference. These areas will be indicated by a sign that clearly states use of mobile devices is not permitted.
  • Speak to your line manager and hospital security if you see anyone suspiciously taking photos of children or vulnerable adults.
  • Additional support can be sought from the COCH Security Team where they can request the deletion of images taken on mobile devices.
  • Any incidents must be reported as an Information Governance Incident on Datix.