Doctors may choose to ignore CHR's cellphone ban
Some doctors are concerned a new Calgary Health Region policy banning its employees from using cellphones while driving, even with a hands-free device, could compromise patient care.
Starting Jan. 1, the region's employees are supposed to avoid taking any calls until they can pull off the road and park safely.
Dr. Glenn Comm, head of the Calgary and Area Physicians Association, says while he understands the region's desire to promote safety, doctors rely on cellphones and pagers for urgent messages about their patients.
"It's not always easy to stop. There's concerns about the timeliness of responding when you're paged," he said Monday.
In a recent editorial published in the association's newsletter, Comm said some doctors worry that patient safety could be compromised if they're stuck in traffic and can't return a page or phone call.
"I think for the most part the people on-call and the people who know that they need to be available … will make the decisions that don't impact care and that may be a decision not to completely follow the guidelines," he said.
Comm said other doctors have also told him they're worried about the already squeezed health-care system.
"If you even slow down the process a few per cent by the delay in communication and stuff, then that just adds to the backlog," he said.
The Calgary Health Region admits it can't really enforce the policy.
"We aren't trying to tell physicians who they can and can't answer the phone from," said Donald Barker, a wellness strategist with the CHR.
"We're just trying to inspire them to consider the ways in which they do it, and trying to remind them that yes, patient care is of utmost importance but if a physician is injured, they can't do that patient care."
Comm said even if there isn't total compliance, the policy will make many doctors think twice about how they use their cellphones when driving.