PDA

View Full Version : ER Physicians -- Cellphones vs. Pagers



CEtchison
01-26-2012, 11:20 PM
I've read some information online stating that several hospital systems still utilize pagers since they are more reliable than cellphones when it comes to signal strength etc in various places in the hospitals.

Would pagers be used only for specific reasons? To transmit STAT codes, etc?

Would ER physicians only utilize a pager once on shift at the hospital?

If an ER physician is "on-call" would he/she be called in via cellphone or pager?

I know of a few people who work in emergency rooms, but none who work at a Level 1 trauma center and I'm not sure if there would be differences in protocol.


Any information would be greatly appreciated. :)

waylander
01-27-2012, 04:44 PM
Some hospitals don't permit people to use cellphones on the wards as they interfer with monitoring equipment

mackandblues
01-27-2012, 05:06 PM
So there are different levels of physicians in an ER - you have your attendings at the top and then residents. The residents are training for several years. The residents are the ones seeing the patients then will present the case to the attending who will agree with or make changes to the recommendations. So ALL physicians carry pagers but the residents are the ones who will be paged by nurses and pharmacists with questions and by other physicians for consulting purposes. Some hospitals have wireless phones (NOT cellphones) that physicians will carry but most hospitals use the pager system. Let me know if you have other questions.

nikkidj
01-27-2012, 07:13 PM
It totally depends on the hospital, level of education, etc. I've been an ER doc for almost 11 years, and I haven't used a pager since I was a resident. I don't know of any ER docs who have pagers-- most just utilize their smart phones. With today's monitoring capabilities, cell phones don't interfere with telemetry monitoring. When you see as sign for "No cell phones" it's usually just for politeness. It's not much fun to do an exam on a patient who is talking on the phone or texting. Believe me, it happens.

Some ERs have intercoms in the room, so they can find the docs when they need them for a phone call. Others, like the one I currently work in, use a system with a built-in walkie talkie. One just says, "call so-and-so" and the call goes through to the appropriate walkie talkie. Then a conversation can be had, not just having to run and make a phone call. Some level 1 trauma centers have a specific trauma pager that only goes off when a level 1, level 2, or trauma alert is coming in. But those don't go home with the doc-- they pick it up when they arrive for the shift.

Oh, and most ER doctors don't take "call." They're either in the hospital working, or they're off. There might be one doctor who is "on call" in case of illness, but that person rarely gets called in. It's one of the perks that attracts people to the specialty-- no call.

GeorgeK
01-27-2012, 07:44 PM
Nikki is right.

Also if it matters, when you get into rural areas there probably won't be any residents. A physician who has completed some sort of residency along with emergency classes like ACLS or an actual Emergency Medicine residency will be the one to see the patient. If they feel the patient warrants being admitted, they will contact one of the staff physicians on call in the specialty for which the patient needs to be admitted. That staff physician is the attending. Depending upon severity of the problem, the attending might come in right then, or they might ask the ER physician to tuck the patient in for the night and write admission orders.

The attending might use a pager, might use a cell phone. Here, I used a pager because where I lived, I could not get cell phone reception, but my pager would work. Other physicians who lived in town would just use their cell phones.

As Nikki said, those actually in the ER have shifts instead of call, so they don't need something that's long range and the hospital will probably even provide it. What system the hospital buys will probably depend on politics and price.

CEtchison
01-28-2012, 02:40 AM
Some level 1 trauma centers have a specific trauma pager that only goes off when a level 1, level 2, or trauma alert is coming in. But those don't go home with the doc-- they pick it up when they arrive for the shift.

Okay. This is exactly what I was assuming. It's been a good 14 years since I've roamed the halls of a hospital and I knew a lot of technology had changed in that time.


Oh, and most ER doctors don't take "call." They're either in the hospital working, or they're off. There might be one doctor who is "on call" in case of illness, but that person rarely gets called in. It's one of the perks that attracts people to the specialty-- no call.

I knew this although it seems I'd forgotten it somewhere along the way. Thank you for the knock upside the head. :)

CEtchison
01-28-2012, 02:45 AM
Thank you all for your responses. I greatly appreciate you taking the time to respond.

sk3erkrou
01-29-2012, 09:11 PM
My son is constantly in the ER for his medical problems, and at the hospitals in Orlando, the doctors don't use cell phones or pagers. Instead, they have what looks like a bigger version of one of the old Nokia brick cell phones, but it is really a more complicated version of a walkie talkie. They said that this allows them to actually take calls, so patients can call them directly from their rooms, while also not interfering with any of the monitoring equipment.

Deb Kinnard
01-30-2012, 03:55 AM
Some hospitals don't permit people to use cellphones on the wards as they interfer with monitoring equipment.


This isn't true in larger hospitals, such as the one in which I work. The newer monitors and systems related to them have been hardened against interference from cell phones. IIRC, I was told they had to be because it was impossible to prevent all patients or patient visitors from using them.

Our docs carry both pagers and cells. The reason for continuing to use the pagers is that if a cardiac or stroke code is called or a multiple trauma is expected, the computerized systems can page everyone on that list at the same time.

CEtchison
01-30-2012, 04:27 AM
Our docs carry both pagers and cells. The reason for continuing to use the pagers is that if a cardiac or stroke code is called or a multiple trauma is expected, the computerized systems can page everyone on that list at the same time.

So are the pagers used as described upthread in that only those with a particular response team (cardiac, trauma, etc) only pick up the pager when they come on shift?