Guidance needed for trainees using smartphones at work

TRAINEE doctors need advice on how to protect patient safety when using their smartphone at work, according to new research.

Of the 108 trainees who responded to the survey published in the Postgraduate Medical Journal, 102 owned a smartphone.

Of those, on at least a daily basis for the purposes of work, 83 per cent made or received phone calls, 87 per cent sent/received texts and 41 per cent sent/received emails on their phone.

More than half (53 per cent) had used their smartphone to take a work-related picture, most commonly for research purposes or to get advice about a wound or symptom.

Many trainees also used a number of apps, with the British National Formulary the most popular, being used daily by 30 per cent. The most commonly used website was Wikipedia, accessed at least weekly by 38 per cent of smartphone owners.

The research, led by Dr Paul O’Connor of the National University of Ireland, found the majority of trainees used smartphones on a daily basis in order to do their job.

The report concluded: “There is a need for guidance on how patient information can be safely secured and transmitted using smartphones, their appropriate use, and any restrictions on the use of these devices in certain clinical settings.”

It called for “education and robust hospital policies” to avoid confidentiality breaches.

The report added that, for trainees in particular, advice is needed “on the credibility of medical apps and websites” as there is currently no regulatory body ensuring their accuracy or reliability.

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