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Distracted Doctoring a Disturbing Trend in Medical Care

Medical doctors and personnel are expected to proficiently multitask in order to diagnose and treat their patients in a timely and effective manner. In recent years, the addition of technology has assisted in making multitasking easier. From instant access to medical records to drug information to case studies, computers, smart phones and other electronic devices have helped to reduce medical errors. However, they are also leading to medical errors.

Startling new statistics and cases are revealing that doctors, nurses and technicians may be distracted. They are increasingly interacting with their devices, but they aren't always using them for professional reasons.

Please Don't Text in the Operating Room

In a 2010 peer-reviewed survey of 439 medical practitioners involved in performing cardiopulmonary bypasses, more than 50 percent admit to using a cell phone during the procedure. Nearly half acknowledged sending text messages, and nearly a quarter of the respondents reported accessing email or the internet while performing cardiopulmonary bypass surgeries.

The distractions are not contained to bypass surgery rooms. In fact, electronic distraction extends into other operating and treatment rooms leaving patients in jeopardy of surgical mistakes that could lead serious injury or even death while those that are "caring" for them are busy with other tasks such as:

• Entering logs on separate cases

• Studying textbooks for class

• Checking airline prices

• Updating social media statuses

• Texting or talking on cell phones

• Making online purchases

The phenomenon of electronic diversions in America is now being deemed "distracted doctoring," and it has become a hot topic in medical schools, hospitals and clinics. In a New York Times article, Dr. Charles G. Prober, a senior associate dean for medical education at Stanford said, "Devices have a great capacity to reduce risk, but the last thing we want to see, and what is happening in some cases now, is the computer coming between the patient and his doctor."

Medical Community Reminding Students and Doctors to Put the Phone Down

To prevent distracted doctoring, some medical facilities have chosen to limit the use of electronic devices in critical settings. Additionally, medical students are being reminded to focus on patients and patient care instead of focusing on the screens of the gadgets they are given to do their jobs. In a statement to the New York Times, Dr. Peter W. Carmel, president of the American Medical Association, said that the first priority of doctors should be with patients even though technology "offers great potential in health care."

Doctors shouldn't need to be reminded of the dangers of distracted doctoring. The years of education that it took to earn the privilege of being a doctor should make them mindful enough that an error could easily take a life. Doctors who injure people as a result of distraction could easily find themselves facing a medical malpractice claim.

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a medical procedure, you should speak with an aggressive and experienced New York City medical malpractice lawyer to learn what your rights and remedies may be.