Pokemon Go Causing Hospitals’ Woes Nationwide

[Shutterstock - DaLiu]

Mary Lou Lang Contributor

Pokemon Go is causing problems at hospitals across the country with players congregating near emergency rooms, front entrances and also attempts by players to enter restricted areas.

Hospital administrators also now have to ensure the virtual critters and players do not pose privacy and security risks.

“Many hospitals are already dealing with the unintended consequences of individuals playing Pokémon Go and wandering into areas containing sensitive information. Even if photographs are not taken, the mere presence of individuals who are only on premises for the purpose of playing a game heightens potential information privacy and security risks,” reports the National Law Review.

The latest hospitals to report issues are in Sacramento, the Sacramento Bee reported. UC Davis Medical Center has asked the game developer to remove game stops from in and around its campus locations.

UC Davis Medical Center has reported problems at its main hospital, children’s hospital and its clinical care locations on campus. The high player traffic has caused issues for medical staff, and a notice to employees about the game also raised concerns about patient safety.

“Health facilities nationwide have also noted disruptions in patient care and operations, such as general increases in foot traffic for reasons unrelated to care and specific instances of players attempting to enter restricted areas,” said the notice. “A game component that allows players to snap real-life photos embedded with cartoon creatures is also creating concerns about the privacy of patients and staff in the background.”

The game has also been banned in some hospitals in Pennsylvania.

The Allegheny Health Network has banned the game in its facilities and has also asked the game developer to remove its facilities from its app, according to local WPXI-TV.

“The presence of Pokémon Go players in our facilities compromises physical safety, patient privacy, computer security, and personal safety.”

Massachusetts General Hospital also recently asked its staff to refrain from playing the popular game at its facility, reports the Healthcare/IT News.

Officials at hospitals in Utah and Missouri have also expressed concern about safety in recent weeks.

Utah Valley Hospital in Provo was the site of four Pokestops and officials asked people to be respectful of its facility and the mission of its hospital.

In Missouri, two health networks asked the public and staff to stop playing the game at its facilities, according to the Springfield News Leader.

“Unfortunately, we have had a number of coworkers and members of the public who have been using this application while on our many campuses, causing our campuses to be ‘marked’ as popular ‘PokeStop’ locations on the game,” Regional Vice President of Human Resources Tanya Marion wrote in an email to employees.

“This in turn is causing a disruption in patient care and daily operations as we have had multiple instances of members of the public being on our campuses for non-patient related reasons,” Marion wrote. She also indicated there’s an “upswing in the activity of this nature after hours when many of our locations are not fully staffed and operating, putting a strain on our safety and security coworkers.”