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Use of personal mobile devices to record patient data by Canadian emergency physicians and residents

Kerry E Walker, David Migneault, Heather C Lindsay, Riyad B Abu-Laban
CJEM 2019, 21 (4): 455-459
31006405

OBJECTIVE: Use of personal mobile devices to record patient data appears to be increasing, but remains poorly studied. We sought to determine the extent and reasons that Canadian emergency physicians (EPs) and emergency medicine residents use personal mobile devices to record patient data in the emergency department (ED).

METHODS: A national survey was distributed to Canadian EPs and residents between 27/02/17 and 23/03/17. This captured demographics, frequency, and purpose of personal mobile device use to record patient data in the ED. It also asked about obtaining consent, security of information, implications for patient care, and knowledge of relevant regulations.

RESULTS: The response rate was 23.1% (406 participants). A third (31.5%) reported using personal mobile devices to record patient data. Most (78.1%) did so more than once a month, and 7.0% did so every shift. Reasons cited included beliefs that using personal mobile devices to record patient data improves care by consultants (36.7%), expedites care (31.3%), and advances medical education (32.8%). Consent was rarely or never documented and a minority of participants (10.9%) indicated they did not obtain consent. More than half of participants (53.2%) reported being unaware of applicable regulations.

CONCLUSIONS: This is the first Canadian study on the use of personal mobile devices to record patient data in the ED. Our findings demonstrate current practice may risk privacy breaches. Personal mobile device use to record patient data in the ED is common and Canadian EPs and residents believe that this practice enhances patient care.

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