Put That Cellphone Away!

Written by Heather Siler

The beloved cell phone has become a part of our lives, and some would agree that they’re a blessing and a curse. While mobile devices are awesome, having rules regarding their use in your practice is wise.

Develop a written policy devoted to what will and won’t be tolerated in the reception area and operatory, and have the patient read and sign the document. Having clear guidelines prevents having to address an offender. Also, posting signs stating “No Cell Phone Use” is helpful.

While waiting for their appointment, patients can create quite a scene while using their cell phone. A noisy app or conversation can become a real problem for others in the reception room. If the patient uses the device in the treatment room, a myriad of problems may arise. I’ve had patients try to conduct conference calls, take phone calls, and ask me to move out of their line of sight while attempting to text.  

Of course, phones may be utilized in the office, but be clear about the rules you’ve set. You may prefer that patients have their phones on silent mode while in the office and not permit taking phone calls or texts while receiving treatment. There are some exceptions where I’ve allowed patients to keep their phone with them and answer it if necessary during the appointment. Examples include a loved one in the hospital, moms of school-aged children, and any other unusual circumstance.

You must also remember that the rules apply to you and the team. Everyone’s phone should be out of sight and earshot.