‘Distracted Doctoring’ a Danger to Patients
A widely read editorial in Anesthesiology News by Peter J. Papadakos, MD, says health care workers today are “fixated on computer screens” and rarely receive information directly from their patients.
Papadakos referred to a study presented to the American Society of Anesthesiologists this year that said nurse anesthetists and residents were distracted by something other than patient care in 54 percent of cases. The study further cited surfing the Internet as the primary distraction. Additionally, a recent report in The New York Times cited polls of medical professionals in which a majority of respondents admitted using cellphones during critical procedures.
The Times cited a survey of medical technicians published this year in Perfusion, a journal about cardio-pulmonary bypass surgery, which found that 55 percent of technicians who monitor bypass machines acknowledged talking on cell phones during heart surgery and half said they had texted while in surgery.
“Why does anyone carry a cell phone into an operating room?” Patrick A. Salvi, managing equity partner of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. in Chicago, asked. “The patient on the table deserves the undivided attention of everyone in that room.”
Salvi, a medical malpractice attorney, expressed concern that health care workers’ increased reliance on electronic devices has become a distraction that has led to medical errors and injuries.
“We’re dismayed by reports that say doctors, nurses, technicians and others providing medical care are spending too much time focused on smartphones, computer screens and other devices when they should be paying attention to their patients.”
“We’re not against the use of electronic devices for delivery of medical records or even personal communication, but it is absolutely crucial that a focus on the patient is not dropped from the accepted standards of medical care,” said Salvi.
Anyone believing their injuries or the injury or death of a loved one in a hospital or another medical setting may have been caused by medical errors resulting from distraction should contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney immediately.