Devices A Dangerous Distraction For Healthcare Professionals

Increased technology gave rise to the practice of distracted driving, which has been linked to far too many deadly consequences. Now, distracted medicine has led to dangerous practices and deadly outcomes, with smart phones and gadgets posing a dangerous diversion for healthcare professionals.

High-tech devices, including smart phones and computers, have proven to be very helpful to modern medicine with on-the-spot access to a world of information that goes beyond patient data. The New York Times points out that the devices provide medical professionals with current drug information, case study data, and other cutting edge information that saves time and enhances productivity and responses.

The devices, however, have proven to be dangerous, as well. For instance, The Times points to a number of dangerous situation in which doctors, nurses, medical assistants, and others working in health care, have been more concerned with their devices than with their patients.

In particular, one malpractice attorney told The Times that he represented a patient who was left paralyzed following surgery because, as it was later learned based on business associate interviews and phone logs, the neurosurgeon had placed numerous calls—at least ten 10 family and associates—during the procedure. The surgeon was using a wireless headset while operating, enabling him to perform delicate surgery and to converse, an example of so-called “distracted doctoring” that had horrendous results. According to The Times, the case was settled before a lawsuit was filed, so no court records exist with detailed information on the patient, doctor, or hospital.

A recent peer-reviewed survey of 439 medical technicians published in the journal, Perfusion, revealed that 55% of technicians responsible to monitor bypass machines acknowledged that they had talked on cell phones during heart surgery; 50% said they had texted during surgery, according to The Times.

Dr. Peter J. Papadakos, an anesthesiologist and director of critical care at the University of Rochester Medical Center, described medical professionals essentially “glued” to their devices, reported The Times. “You justify carrying devices around the hospital to do medical records,” he said. “But you can surf the Internet or do Facebook, and sometimes, for whatever reason, Facebook is more tempting…. My gut feeling is lives are in danger,” Dr. Papadakos told The Times. Dr. Papadakos just published an article on “electronic distraction” in the journal, Anesthesiology News. “We’re not educating people about the problem, and it’s getting worse,” he added.

“I’ve seen texting among people I’m supervising in the O.R.,” said Dr. Stephen Luczycki, an anesthesiologist and medical director at a surgical intensive care unit at Yale-New Haven Hospital. Dr. Luczycki also discussed anesthesiologists using the operating room computer during surgery. “It is not, unfortunately, uncommon to see them doing any number of things with that computer beyond patient care,” Dr. Luczycki also told The Times that when he uses intensive care unit computers he can easily see what others were viewing before him. “Amazon, GMail, I’ve seen all sorts of shopping, I’ve seen eBay,” he said.

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