Communication devices in the operating room

Curr Opin Anaesthesiol. 2006 Dec;19(6):655-9. doi: 10.1097/ACO.0b013e3280110f58.


Purpose of review: Effective communication is essential to patient safety. Although radio pagers have been the cornerstone of medical communication, new devices such as cellular telephones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and laptop or tablet computers can help anesthesiologists to get information quickly and reliably. Anesthesiologists can use these devices to speak with colleagues, access the medical record, or help a colleague in another location without having to leave a patient's side. Recent advances in communication technology offer anesthesiologists new ways to improve patient care.

Recent findings: Anesthesiologists rely on a wide variety of information to make decisions, including vital signs, laboratory values, and entries in the medical record. Devices such as PDAs and computers with wireless networking can be used to access this information. Mobile telephones can be used to get help or ask for advice, and are more efficient than radio pagers. Voice over Internet protocol is a new technology that allows voice conversations to be routed over computer networks. It is widely believed that wireless devices can cause life-threatening interference with medical devices. The actual risk is very low, and is offset by a significant reduction in medical errors that results from more efficient communication.

Summary: Using common technology like cellular telephones and wireless networks is a simple, cost-effective way to improve patient care.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesiology*
  • Cell Phone
  • Computer Communication Networks / instrumentation*
  • Computer Security
  • Computers, Handheld
  • Equipment Failure
  • Equipment and Supplies, Hospital
  • Hospital Communication Systems*
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication*
  • Internet
  • Medical Errors / prevention & control
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized
  • Microcomputers
  • Operating Rooms*
  • Patient Care Team