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The good, the bad and the ugly of mobile phone use in clinical practice

Act 1

Scene: at the bedside

Enter stage: registrar, intern, medical student, Mrs. Thompson

Registrar: “Hi Mrs. Thompson, how are you travelling?”

Mrs. Thompson: “Not too well dear, I’ve had a pounding headache since last night.”

Registrar: “Really? Well you are recovering from a stroke, but I wonder if we have overlooked something. Maybe we should scan your head again?”

Medical student (to the rescue!): “We changed Mrs. Thompson’s aspirin to Asasantin yesterday and it says here on my mobile phone application that Asasantin can cause headache. Should we try stopping it to see if her headache resolves before we zap her brain again?”

Act 2

Scene: outpatient clinics

Enter stage: consultant, medical student, Mr. McLeod

Consultant: “We seem to have your COPD under control with your current medications. It has been a while now since you’ve been hospitalised with an exacerbation.”

Mr. McLeod: “Yeah I feel…”

Ring, ring (interruption by consultant’s mobile phone)

Consultant: “Yes, it’s me speaking. Go ahead…”

Conversation between consultant and his registrar regarding Mrs. Vince, a current inpatient; during conversation it is revealed to all present in the room that Mrs. Vince’s bowel habits have been erratic and now she has PR bleeding; consultant recommends a gastro consult

Consultant: “Now, what were we saying?”

Act 3

Scene: at the bedside

Enter stage: consultant, registrar, intern, medical student

Mr. Walker’s biopsy report has confirmed squamous cell carcinoma of the lung; it is now time to break the news to him

Consultant: “Hi Mr. Walker, how did you sleep?”

Mr. Walker: “Didn’t get much sleep last night. I’m very anxious about the result.”

Consultant: “Well, the result has come back and I’m afraid the news is not as good as we would have hoped for. Is your wife here with you today?”

Mr. Walker: “No she’s just stepped out to run some errands. That’s ok though, just give it to me straight. I want to know exactly what’s going on.”

Consultant: “Ok Mr. Walker. Well the biopsy reveals that you do have cancer. It is a type of lung cancer called squamous…”

Ring, ring (interruption by consultant’s mobile phone)

Consultant: “Hold on Mr. Walker, I need to take this call. I will be back in a moment.”

Registrar, intern and medical student standing around the patient’s bed looking at each other and feeling rather awkward about the…