Smart Phone Use in OR Could Increase Medical Error Risks

surgery%20phones.jpgIt’s fairly common for doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to use smart phones in the operating room (OR). They may check medication dosages or search for important medical information. However, sometimes, those cell phones are used for non-medical purposes and a nursing group says that when that happens, there’s a serious risk of medical errors.

There are a number of reasons why doctors and nurses may use cell phones in a operating room. For instance, sometimes a doctor may need to text the patient’s relatives for important information, or may need to look up information about the disease. There’s no doubt that the use of smart phones is important in the OR.

However, in an increasing number of cases, doctors as well as nurses are using smart phones for non-medical reasons inside the operating room. According to a report by NPR, you can now find medical personnel chatting, looking at Facebook status updates, playing games, and performing a variety of other non-medical-related activities using their smart phones in the operating room.

The country’s leading nurse anesthetist association is asking medical personnel to drop all use of smart phones inside the operating room, unless it is for medical purposes. The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists says that it is becoming an increasing challenge to help educate medical professionals to avoid non-medical use of their smart phones.

The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists has come up a new policy, aimed at helping reduce the incidence of such non-medical use of smart phones. However, the policy is vague because there’s very little information out there about the exact effects of smartphone use on medical professionals.

There are very limited studies that have been conducted on the effect of smartphone use on medical personnel, and their impact on medical error rates. There is an urgent need for research into these issues, because it isn’t possible to develop an effective policy when we do not have enough data about the risks of these practices.

There is enough evidence to indicate that using a cell phone or texting while driving is severely destructive, and dramatically increases the risk of being involved in an accident. For instance, a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute finds that the risk of being involved in an accident increases by a staggering 23 times when a motorist is texting while driving.

There are other statistics available about medical professionals who use cell phones while they’re at work. For instance, in one study, 55% of perfusionists admitted to using cell phones, for texting and e-mailing during bypass surgery. 80% of the perfusionists believed that their cell phone use could be a significant safety risk to patients. The practice itself is widespread, but we need more research and investigation into its effects.

The Indiana medical malpractice lawyers at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson Kennedy LLP represent persons injured due to medical negligence across Indiana.