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Distracted doctoring during surgery could have deadly results

Safety discussions surrounding cellphone use have focused on those that do so behind the wheel, but that isn’t the only place where texting, talking, surfing the internet, checking an email or updating a Facebook status can put others in harm’s way.

Distracted doctoring has become a real concern in the realm of medical malpractice. Digital and wireless technology has been hailed as being helpful in the medical field, but what if the surgeon, anesthesiologist or other medical professional is using it for leisure purposes during a very serious operation?

Several surveys have found that the issue may be more widespread than some may think. In about 54 percent of cases nurse anesthetists and residents in a survey presented at the 2011 American Society of Anesthesiologists said that they “were distracted by something other than patient care.”

Anesthesiologists aren’t the only ones not paying attention and exposing patients to very real harm, like that caused by a failure to monitor a patient. In another study concerning heart surgeries, 56 percent of the technicians operating the bypass machine responded that they were operating a cellhpone as well during at least one procedure. Surprisingly, 78 percent acknowledged that using a cellphone “posed a risk to patients.”

The proof is more evident than physician admissions in anonymous surveys as well. In one particular case, a neurosurgeon had made a minimum of 10 calls on his cellphone during a single procedure. What was the outcome of that procedure? The patient was left paralyzed. Other similar incidents have occurred as well and will probably occur again.

Those with a bad outcome after a medical procedure may not have the necessary information on hand to determine whether negligence caused the harm, but an Annapolis medical malpractice attorney can help victims and their families determine whether that was the case and whether they may be eligible for compensation.

Source: Pacific Standard, “Treat, Don’t Tweet: The Dangerous Rise of Social Media in the Operating Room,” Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza, April 16, 2014

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