NR 361 Use of Personal Communication Devices in Patient Care Settings

NR 361 Use of Personal Communication Devices in Patient Care Settings

NR 361 Use of Personal Communication Devices in Patient Care Settings

Week 7 Discussion Post:

Nurses using their cell phone at work can both positively and negatively affect patient care. A nurse using their cell phone for personal reasons can be a distraction, therefore leading to delay in patient care. On the other hand, I have used my cell phone for work-related reasons and it has positively affected patient care. Many of times as an ER nurse have I done home medication histories from patients using their pills in unmarked containers (such as a pill organizer). I have an app on my cell phone from “” that has a helpful function called “Pill Identifier”.

The ethical and legal implications of the use of personal devices are all centered around preserving patient confidentiality. The debate is, can a nurse use their personal device without interfering with patient confidentiality. I do believe that if a nurse violates a patient’s rights, they should face legal repercussions.

The article, Calling on smartphones to enhance patient care, states that the greatest benefit of nurses using their personal devices at work was improved communication by members of the healthcare team (VanDusen, 2017). At my hospital, we use an Android mobile device as our work phone. We are able to send physicians text messages of the situation or the patient’s needs, and they call us and give us verbal orders. I believe our messages are being conveyed more efficiently since the physician can read our message and call to clarify and give orders.



VanDusen, Krista A. BSN, RN Calling on smartphones to enhance patient care, Nursing: November 2017 – Volume 47 – Issue 11 – p 1-2 doi: 10.1097/01.NURSE.0000525993.44109.f9

The use of personal communication devices can impact the nursing practice in positive and negative ways. Distraction can be a negative impact of nurse’s personal communication device. When a nurse is distracted it can cause errors and mistakes. Distractions also decrease the quality of care that a nurse gives the patients. On the positive side nurse’s personal communication devices can help get important patient information to the correct people in a timely manner and it is an easy way to look up something you are not familiar with quickly. Using the device in this matter will improve quality care and decrease delays in treatment. “Bedside technologies continue to grow; they interface with smart phones and other devices to improve communication and, ultimately, patient care” (Hebda, Hunter, & Czar, 2019 p.218).

The patient is the nurse’s first prior. The use of personal devices can cause challenges ethically and legally.  “These challenges are personal (distraction), negative patient perception (interference), and potential delays (disruption) in providing care” (Conant, et al., 2020).  We as nurses have ethical guidelines that we are supposed to follow. One of the nursing ethical guiding principles is “nonmaleficence: the obligation for doing no intentional harm” (Hebda, Hunter, & Czar, 2019). If the nurse was distracted by a personal communication device and the patient experiences a negative outcome, the nurse did not follow ethical guidelines which may result in legal consequences.

There are several generations of nurses. Older nurses tend to not need to use personal communication devices as

NR 361 Use of Personal Communication Devices in Patient Care Settings
NR 361 Use of Personal Communication Devices in Patient Care Settings

much as younger nurses. Nurses have personal communication devices at work is now normal. There is a time and a place for everything. Nurses have a life outside of work should still have access to it while at work but not allow it to cause a distraction. It is important that all nurses be mindful of their agency policy in reference to these devices. “ Policies concerning the use of personal communication devices need to provide the ability for the nurse to remain connected to his/her personal life yet not inhibit the provision of care” (Conant, et al., 2020). If these devices are being used it important to have clear and concise guidelines to follow to ensure patient’s safety as well as the patient’s rights.


Conant, J., Elmore, R., Moore, A., Blake, S., Peacock, A., & Ward-Smith, P. (2020). Use of Personal Communication Devices in Clinical Settings. JONA: The Journal of Nursing Administration, 50(4), 192-197. doi:10.1097/nna.0000000000000867 to an external site.

Hebda, T., Hunter, K., & Czar, P. (2019). Handbook of informatics for nurses & healthcare professionals (6th ed.). Pearson.

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Thank you for kicking off our week 7 discussion.

Regarding using PCDs “to look up something you are not familiar with quickly. ” It’s a bit disappointing that nurses need to or ‘feel the need to‘ use their own device to find such information; hospitals may need a significant nudge to purchase some phones or tablets for nurses to use in such circumstances.

  • I am curious if your facility uses mobile computers/Workstations on Wheels that allow access to patient information, i.e., medications, diagnosis, and lab values, etc. If so, this would eliminate the need to use your PCD for these patient-related tasks.

Most eMARs have the functionality to research drugs about to be administered.

It is very disappointing that nurses may feel or need  to use their personal devices to contact people or retrieve information. I work in two different specialties.  As a detox nurse I have access to a mobile laptop, cell phone, and computer. The computer we sit at when we are not actually on the unit. The phone is carried everywhere with the nurse and the laptop is used when on the actually unit. There is internet access on all these devices as well as contact information for all health professionals needed for patient care. We have these tools in place to ensure that we don’t use our personal devices. This doesn’t stop people from using them but we do have policies in place to avoid distractions. My other job I am a nurse consultant for developmentally disabled individuals. I have my own company laptop and cell phone that  I can access all information needed. The cell phone that I carry has a hot spot feature which allows me to gain access to the  internet through my computer if I am in a place outside of the company. I never have to use my personal devices to contact people or look for information.  Nurses already have many responsibilities, using our personal devices to manage workflow is not one of them.