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Why You Should Leave Your Phone at Home When Having Surgery

In the pre-op packet given to patients before surgery, physicians often suggest leaving all personal valuables at home.  For many of us, this should include our cell phone.  Here are some reasons why, as well as some tips for how to do it:

Phones are Disruptive Many hospital floors are filled with sensitive electronic monitors and devices.  Cell phone signals can compete with the beeps and transmission of data from these devices, making it hard for hospital staff members to do their jobs.  Chatting on the phone can also be annoying to your roommate or to others on the hospital floor.

Phones Get Lost and Stolen It’s a major hassle to lose your phone and all the contacts, pictures, messages and other contents stored in it because someone either innocently or not-so-innocently picked it up.

You Need to Rest Hospitals are noisy and filled with constant action.  The last thing you need is another source of “input” and overstimulation when your sole job is to rest and recover. The back light on phones can lead to insomnia and sleep distraction.  The sooner you recover, the quicker you get home. You also shouldn’t be stressed about keeping up with work emails or personal contacts, especially when under the influence of medications, especially pain meds and anesthesia, when you might say things you shouldn’t or won’t remember later!

Here’s how to successfully handle the days without a phone:

Leave an “Out of Office” email autoreply and outgoing voice message You don’t have to give a reason, just indicate that you are away and will be unable to return phone calls and/or emails. Give a return date and emergency contact.  You will then give yourself the leeway to reply when you feel up to it.  The pressure is off.

Designate a Secretary Let a family member or friend be your receptionist, call screener and updater.  He or she can notify a list of others whom you want to keep updated.  Those not on the list will simply have to wait until the anesthesia has worn off and you feel better and can correspond clearly.

Taking the time in the hospital to truly unplug is, ironically, a great way to recharge your own battery. You’ll have plenty of time to get reconnected with others after you return home. Who knows, maybe you’ll even enjoy the feeling and decide to make one day per week “technology-free”!


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