Patient and Family Cell Phone Use Can Seem Intrusive, Until It’s Not

Oh no, here comes another Dad with a Bluetooth.

My colleague and I roll our eyes at each other in frustration. Another self-important junior executive who must be in touch with everyone in the world while his wife labors unsupported, I mutter with dismay as I rise from my chair to greet our newest birthing couple.

I have to coach myself: Change your attitude. Change your attitude, as I weigh the mom and escort the couple to the birthing room. Dad-to-Be proceeds to spread out his equipment on the dresser in front of the window while Mom-to-Be, in obvious distress, changes into a gown in the bathroom.

That’s the engaging beginning of “Before the Signal Fades,” this month’s Reflections essay in AJN. The essay traces an unexpected path from complaint to something much deeper. Click the link to read the entire essay (and click through to the PDF version for a nicer reading experience). What’s your take on patient use of cell phones, cameras, smartphones, and the like?—JM, senior editor


Senior editor/social media strategy, American Journal of Nursing, and editor of AJN Off the Charts.


  1. […] highlights the patients with cell phone issue. Even my 85 + patients purses are now vibrating or ring a linging….I just comply when they […]

  2. Marcy Phipps July 13, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    I love this! Excellent point, artfully made.

  3. jm July 13, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Yes, that’s what made us want to publish the essay. After all, who doesn’t sometimes get irritated by the invasiveness of such devices? And yet…..
    -JM, AJN senior editor

  4. Beth Toner, RN July 13, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Wow. This was amazing. I cried. Technology is such a double-edged sword… and this reminds me to withhold judgment. 🙂

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