Distracted Doctoring Becoming a Legitimate Concern

These days, doctors have a lot of information at their disposal — in fact, many doctors have medical information right in the palm of their hands. Use of Smartphones, tablets, and other gadgets makes it possible for doctors to get more done in a short amount of time.

Patient data? Check.
Medical history? Check.
Case studies? Check.
Drug information? Check.

But in a time when the Institute of Medicine reports an average of 100,000 medical error fatalities every year, is it a good thing that doctors are spending more time with their eyes — and minds — on their electronic devices?

Distracted Doctoring is Becoming a Real a Concern

One of the main problems with Smartphone use on-the-job is that an electronic devices have tons of features — most of which don’t help doctors do their jobs better. Access to email and social networks is just a click away, and the temptation is often too much to resist.

A 2010 peer-reviewed survey which polled 439 medical professionals who perform cardiopulmonary bypasses revealed that roughly half of those polled confessed to having used their cellular phones during a procedure.

The issue, it seems, is mostly with younger doctors. These physicians are members of a generation so used to using cell phones and computers that not-using them is almost unheard of. In fact, the problem is sparking conversation in med schools, with professors reminding students that the patient is the priority, not their cell phones.

In an attempt to combat distracted doctoring, some hospitals are mandating that operation rooms be deemed “quiet zones,” meaning there is to be no interaction with cell phones or computers. And while this is a step in the right direction, the rule is not easy to enforce.

Distracted doctoring is an unfortunate consequence of doctors having the ability to access useful patient information right when they need it. Abuse of cell phones, however, could very well lead to even more medical errors in hospitals. And there’s already way too many of those.

To read more about medical errors, and medical malpractice in general, check out the medical malpractice blog category section of this website.