'Death Caused by Cellphone' Incident

When I was in the hospital, watching over by sick uncle, I heard some people talking about not using the cellphone in any hospitals because it may result to a temporary shutdown of equipments there. The other asked why, and she answered a story of a little girl who died because of this.

Now, we will be discussing this urban legend. Is it true that cellphones can cause hospital equipments to shutdown?

Mobile Phone

Before we go to the main story, let's first talk about mobile phones.

From the year 1998, when cellphones have antenna, 15 years later, we have now a touchscreen smartphones. I was surprised to know that.

My mother bought me my first cellphone when I was still an elementary pupil. I forgot the unit but it is a Nokia mobile phone. But before that, she gave me first a cellphone with antenna so I can practice with it, but I don't consider it my first phone instead I consider it just like a toy.

Anyway, Mobile phone (more commonly called Cellular phone or simple Cellphone) is a device that can make and receive telephone calls over a radio link while moving around a wide geographic area.[1] The much later versions of mobile phone can also make and receive messages from one mobile phone to another.

John F. Mitchell and Dr. Martin Cooper of Motorola demonstrated the first hand-held cell phone in 1973. In 1983, the first cellphone was introduced and made available commercially, and it was the DynaTAC 8000x. From year 1990 to 2011, cellphone users grew from 12.4 million to over 6 billion people worldwide.[1]

At first, cellphones are just an accessory thing for people but as time runs it became a necessity and everyone should have this.

According to United Nations, mobile phones have spread faster than any other technology. Phone can also improve the livelihood of the poorest people in developing countries by providing access to information in places where landlines or internet are not available.[1]

Mobile phones, like televisions and radios, also use radio waves or electromagnetic waves.

The Story

As the story goes, the liitle girl died just because the hospital machine went dead after when someone used a cellphone outside the Operation Room. I don't know if the story actually happened. The real question here is, do really cellphones cause this incident?

[Taken from Internet:[2]]

Good doctors, here is an email forward I just received, which I highly suspect is yet another medical urban legend . Is there any veracity to this account ?

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

The next time you visit someone in the hospital, do look out for signs that say, NO PHONES ALLOWED. You might not realise what unfortunate things can happen to your negligence . Be compassionate on other lives.

This story was told by one Houseman in a local hospital. One day, a 4 year-old girl was admitted due to leg fracture. As it was an open fracture, she had to undergo an operation to stitch the protruding bone back in place. Though it was quite a minor operation , still she was hooked onto a life support system , as it 's somehow part of the process.

The doctors had to input some data prior to the operation to suite different conditions. Thereafter, the operation proceeded. Half way through the process , the life support system suddenly went dead.

The culprit : some idiot was using his/her handyphone outside the Operation Theatre. And the frequency had affected the system. They tried to track the fellow but to no avail. The little girl, young and innocent as she was, died soon after. Sad to say, she was the only child, and her mother could never be able to conceive again!

* Message : Be compassionate ! *

Do not use your handphone at any hospital or places where you 're told not to use it. You might not be caught in the act, but you might have killed someone without knowing!

Please pass this on to as many people as possible, as many are just not aware of the seriousness it can cause!

The Truth

I heard that cellphones should be put away of you whenever you are sleeping because the radio waves it emits may cause something in your brain. I don't know if it is true, but I follow it.

According to a study conducted by Mayo Clinic (published March 2007), calls made on cellular phones have no negative impact on hospital medical devices, dispelling the notion that they aren't safe to use near hospital facilities. Three hundred tests were performed over a five-month period in 2006 using two cellular phones, which used different technologies from different carriers and 192 medical devices. They found nothing.[3]

But according to Harvey B. Simon, M.D., though cellphones have no effect to medical devices, it can still interfere pacemakers. But only if the user holds the phone directly over the pacemaker rather over the ear (preferably on the side away from the pacemaker). Hospital also ban cell phones in intensive care units (ICU) because they might interfere with sensitive electronic monitoring devices.[4]

In a new Dutch study, according to CNN.com, all cell phones transmitting datas back and forth off should be kept at a minumum distance of three feet away from any medical equipment. The real cause is the electromagnetic interference. Researchers also found out that it can interfere with a variety of machines, including one, a mechanical ventilator or breathing machine, which switches on and off.[5]


Maybe the best thing we should do when we're in a hospital is to avoid using it as soon as possible, especially near intensive care unit. Overall, the conclusion is, we can still use our cellphones but a bit farther away any medical devices.

The No Cellphone sign might not be an urban legend, but the story is, and I can't find any other versions of it, except the one in Snopes.com.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_phone
[2] http://www.pinoyexchange.com/forums/showthread.php?t=21837 | by: brownpau | June 13, 2000 09:54 AM
[3] http://www.gizmag.com/go/6979/
[4] http://healtyliving.msm.com/health-wellness/why-cant-i-use-my-cell-phone-in-the-hospital
[5] http://edition.cnn.com/HEALTH/blogs/paging.dr.gupta/2007/09/truth-about-no-cell-zones.html | Posted: Thursday, September 06, 2007 | The truth about 'no cell zones'

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