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Are Chicago doctors easily distracted in the operating room?

Many residents of Chicago are becoming more aware of how dangerous distractions, including cellphones, can be in numerous situations, and therefore some folks may be making an effort to ensure they are not distracted by such devices while performing important tasks.

In the hands of a driver, studies have shown cellphones and smartphones can be a major form of distraction and have the potential to be a factor in a serious or fatal car accident.

In the hands of a physician or surgeon, though, a ringing cellphone could play a part in a surgical errorduring an operation. A new study is suggesting that surgeons between 27 and 35 years old may be easily distracted during operations, which could cause young surgeons to make serious or fatal mistakes when operating on patients. The study was recently published in a medical journal.

While most people, including parents, students and even employees, will be quick to admit they have been distracted by a smartphone while at work or school or with their children, medical personnel in the operating room should also be aware of how these devices could be distracting and dangerous, making conscientious efforts to eliminate all possible distractions before performing surgeries.

For the study, a simulator was used to test 18 surgeons as they worked, adding various distractions during an intricate operation. The study revealed surgeons’ mistakes typically revolved around distractions, which included ringing cellphones, falling objects or even having conversations while performing the simulated operation. Had the mistakes in the study been made while operating on real patients, some patients would have suffered serious or fatal complications, researchers reported.

The lead author of the study said changes need to be made in order to eliminate distractions in operating rooms since it appears to be a significant problem. Although the study only involved young surgeons, the author of the study said she believes older doctors may be just as easily distracted in the operating room, especially when they are fatigued.

Source: iVillage, “Young Surgeons May Be Easily Distracted,” Dec. 4, 2012


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