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Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Dr Chen Chaw Min said all hospitals and other government medical institutes, including research centres and labs, must prominently display signs barring anyone from using mobile phones in their premises.
“The ministry’s management and integrity committee has decided on this and all health facilities must put them up immediately,” he said in a directive to all state health directors, heads of health institutes and research centres, labs and colleges.
The ban was issued years ago and was enforced in some hospitals and health facilities to protect patient privacy and ensure the phones did not interfere with patient-monitoring equipment.
The new directive stated that dual language warnings banning photography and video recording should also be put up in these areas.
In English, they should read “No Photography or Video Recording Allowed”.
The minimum size of the signs should be 40cm by 50cm.
He added that signs prohibiting people from lighting up or vaping should also be prominently displayed in all facilities.
Elaborating, Dr Chen said “No Phone” or “Dilarang Menggunakan Telefon” signs should be put up at treatment, rehabilitation and consultation rooms as well as at the pharmacies, labs, maternity wards and mortuary.
Similar signs can also be put up at all counters, X-ray rooms, the emergency and trauma section, wards, dental clinics, high dependency/intensive care/coronary care units and haemodialysis centres.
At present, such signs are only displayed in selected areas such as emergency and trauma sections and the mortuary.
“Department heads are also authorised to put up these signs in other areas,” he said.
A medical officer who did not wish to be named said studies conducted abroad have shown that mobile phones can interfere with the workings of dialysis machines, defibrillators and ventilators.
“It is similar to airlines banning the use of mobile phones especially during landing and takeoff.
“It is to prevent it from interfering with the aircraft’s systems,” said the officer.
“Then, there is also this belief that mobile phones are not sterile and they should not be brought into places like high dependency wards,” he said.
Another official said that although the latest mobile phones emitted minimal electromagnetic waves, these were still dangerous as they were capable of igniting an oxygen supply.
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