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It's your fault that patients use cellphones during dental procedures

First, a disclosure. I supported the recent suggestion from the National Transportation Board that the usage of cellphones should be prohibited among drivers.

 

For years, we've been making smokers go outside to light up. Second-hand smoke and distracted driving kill innocent bystanders. What's the problem?

 

Nonsmokers probably don't like the idea of being forced to pull over to make a phone call — cramps their style too much.

 

Ah, yes. There's probably more than a few dental professionals who would like to make it illegal for a dental patient to text or chat on the phone during a dental procedure.

 

I'd like to meet the dental patient who's brave enough to irritate a dental professional by texting Bob to buy extra ice for the beer pong match this weekend. That's guts. The man/woman sitting inches away from you has extremely sharp weapons, and you want to make them wait while you talk on the phone?

 

For the record, a PennWell survey determined that 88% of dental professionals feel that cellphone use by patients is a distraction. Sixty-seven percent say cellphone conversations interrupt dental care one to two times a day (another 16% said the interruption occurs three to four times a day). Finally, 76% said dental patients have asked if they can take a phone call in the middle of a dental procedure.

 

Before we suggest that the CDC initiate rule making on cellphones in dental offices, let's determine whose fault this is.

 

It's your fault.

 

Only 41% of dental offices have an office policy regarding cellphones. Only 28% feel like patients adhere to the policies when they are in place. Despite the office's communication — the little picture of a cellphone with a red slash through it — 72% of the offices with policies are just ignored by the cellphone folks.

 

You're on a tight schedule. Other patients are out in the reception area, waiting for your care. Your sense of timing/routine is messed up with these distractions. Why don't you take the bib off, tell them to go outside and talk on the phone, and schedule another appointment?

 

Someone's sense of priorities is off kilter, and it's the person talking on the cellphone during a dental appointment. They'll get away it as long as you let them, disregarding everyone's (staff and other patients) commitment to the health-care that is being dispensed in the office at that very moment. Don't let your world revolve around an unwelcomed cellphone call.

 

Thus sayeth the guy who actually supports the NTSB's ban.

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Comment by Mary Jane RDH BS on February 10, 2012 at 11:56am

Yeah, Mark. That is exactly what I did. Her excuse was that she was a busy mother and didn't get time to herself otherwise!!

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