Distractions from Electronic Devices Increase Risk of Medical Errors

00000000%20laptop.jpgShopping on eBay, checking out airline fares, browsing the Internet and checking e-mails – these are just some of the activities that medical professionals in American hospitals are being caught in, even as medical procedures are underway. The New York Times has a report on how distractions are increasing the risk of medical errors in American hospitals.

The use of technology has become widespread in hospitals around the country, as hospitals have begun investing in access to technology to enhance patient safety. There is no question that technology has many benefits. Doctors who use a smart phone can have important information like patient medical records and prescription details at their very finger tips. However, the risks of distractions from these devices are also very real.

The New York Times found a number of incidences from around the country, in which doctors, nurses and medical technicians were caught using cell phones while performing procedures and in other inappropriate situations. Doctor distractions have been linked to more than one medical malpractice lawsuit, including one out of Denver, in which the doctor was having a conversation on his hands-free set while performing a surgery on a patient. Those distractions were ultimately blamed for errors during the surgery that left the patient paralyzed. The doctor was making personal calls at the time of the procedure.

Hospitals and doctors find the use of electronic devices very important because of the accuracy and reliability of the data presented to these personnel, as well as the speed with which these personnel can access important information. However, Indiana medical malpractice lawyers have noticed the growing influence of computers in hospitals, reducing focus on patient safety. It’s not uncommon to see nurses, medical technicians and others frequently using computers and other devices for personal reasons in operating rooms. Earlier, the goal was to maintain 100% focus on the patient and the procedure. That seems to be changing, and the risk of medical errors has been increasing.

Younger or fresh doctors seem to be at a particular risk of distractions in the workplace because they have grown up surrounded by electronic devices, and can’t imagine a world without immediate access to a smart phone, computer or iPad. Some hospitals and medical schools are trying to strike a balance between the use of electronic devices and limitations on their use. For example, Stanford Medical School provides students with iPads so they can access medical texts whenever they want. However, the school also has restrictions on the use of these devices and requires students to ensure that the devices do not get in the way of their work. More such standards are needed in hospitals and colleges around the country, to foster an environment that is respectful of technology, without allowing it to interfere with patient safety.

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