Impact of using personal mobile phones in the operating theatre: a scoping review

Sara Reis*, Rita D. Marques, Patrícia Pontífice-Sousa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



Background: Nowadays, mobile phones are an indispensable tool in multiple settings, particularly in the field of health care. Consequently, it is important to understand the impact of their use by health care professionals in the operating theatre – an environment that should be as ‘sterile’ as possible, to ensure patient safety. Purpose: To map the available scientific evidence on the impact of the multidisciplinary team’s use of personal mobile phones in the operating theatre. Methods: A scoping review was conducted, following the methodology recommended by the Joanna Briggs Institute. The bibliographic search was carried out in the ‘PubMed’ and ‘Web of Science’ databases and on the ‘EBSCOhost’ platform, employing the selected DeCS/MeSH descriptors. Additionally, relevant grey literature was searched, using Google Scholar and the ‘Repositórios Científicos de Acesso Aberto de Portugal’ (RCAAP) portal. The resulting articles underwent a selection process, which consisted of reading the respective title, abstract and full text. The review included works published in Portuguese, English and Spanish, without establishing a specific publication time frame. Results: After applying the inclusion criteria, 15 articles were identified. The results were then organised, taking into account the inherent positive and negative aspects of using mobile phones in the context under study. The negative aspects included bacterial contamination of the devices and the occurrence of events that might distract the professionals. The positive aspects included the effectiveness of the devices to distract children and enable adequate care (e.g. during anaesthetic induction) and to improve professional knowledge and skills. Conclusion: When considering the impact of using personal mobile phones in the operating theatre, we often focus on the positive aspects of that practice. Nevertheless, in 11 studies included in the present review, the reported negative effects were more significant than the positive ones. There is evidence that patient safety may be threatened in such situations, due to the risk of cross-infection and the potential for distraction of multidisciplinary team members.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e-17-e-25
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Perioperative Nursing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2023


  • Cell phone
  • Impact
  • Mobile phone
  • Operating room
  • Operating theatre
  • Smartphone


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