Advancements in technology have been a boon to patient safety across the country. When doctors have instant access to the latest in medical treatments, patients’ medical histories and medical references (such as information indicating which medications may be dangerous when taken together) the safety of patients can be improved. However, and paradoxically, putting all of this technology in the hands of doctors and nurses, surgeons and anesthesiologists may actually be distracting these professionals from the patient, leading to medical malpractice claims.
What a New York Times article refers to as “distracted doctoring”, involves medical professionals using all of the technology to check social-networking websites, making personal phone calls or sending text messages, or otherwise allowing themselves to become distracted – potentially to the detriment of their patients.
According to a peer-reviewed survey published in the journal Perfusion, 55 percent of technicians admitted that during heart surgery they had talked on their cell phones, even though 40 percent of all surveyed stated this is “always an unsafe practice.” Further, half of technicians stated they had used their cell phones to send text messages, even though roughly 50 percent of those surveyed also said this was a danger to patients.
While technology holds the potential to greatly increase the care that patients receive, the same technology, when it contributes to distracted doctoring, may lead to serious injuries.
Dr. Peter Papadakos of the University of Rochester Medical Center was quoted by the New York Times as stating: “You justify carrying devices around the hospital to do medical records. But you can surf the Internet or do Facebook, and sometimes, for whatever reasons, Facebook is more tempting.”