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No ‘Pokémon Go’ advice from HSE yet

The Executive said it has not yet provided any advice to acute hospitals about this issue either.

Hospitals in the UK, Canada and the US have reported problems with Pokémon Go players walking onto hospital property when playing the game.

Pokémon Go taps into a smartphone’s camera and GPS system. Pokémon — small cartoon creatures — appear on the phone and the objective is to ‘catch’ and ‘train’ them, but players must physically move around, looking for ‘Pokéstops’ placed there by the manufacturers.

In July, the UK’s Daily Telegraph reported that “managers of Royal Stoke University Hospital were horrified to discover that their A&E department had become a ‘gym’ for the augmented reality creatures, causing players to enter the unit in order to ‘train’ their characters”.

According to the paper, the hospital has “now posted a warning on their website to members of the public saying they may not enter into A&E simply to hunt down Pokémon”.

In July, Forbes magazine reported that in the US, “an increasing number of hospitals are concerned about the game leading players into hospitals and healthcare facilities”.

Last month, Canada’s Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto asked players of the game to stay off its premises. “Unfortunately, Pokémon Go can create many challenging issues and safety concerns for our patients and may impede staff in their work.

“Our patients are some of the sickest in Ontario and may be going through a very difficult time in their lives. We ask that individuals respect their privacy and the hospital space,” said a statement from the hospital.

In July, Fine Gael Senator Catherine Noone suggested that the game could have a positive impact on Ireland’s fight against obesity. “Pokémon Go seems to motivate young people, even those who have not been active for some time. There are cases in the US of previously inactive people getting out and walking for miles to try to increase their Pokémon stash,” said Senator Noone. 

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