We hear a lot about the dangers of distracted driving and the danger of using a handheld device while operating heavy machinery such as an automobile. The advent of cell phones and other mobile devices has also increased a danger we hear little about: distracted medicine.
Recently a Los Angeles plastic surgeon was videoed attending traffic court remotely while performing surgery! While outrageous, it is, unfortunately, a painful reminder that distractions are prevalent and dangerous, even in the important arena of the operating room.
It is imperative that physicians and other health care professionals give their full attention when evaluating or treating patients, and that means shutting down their mobile devices.
Sadly, we have had numerous clients who have experienced gross negligence in their medical care that would have been prevented if patients were given their caregivers and/or physicians full attention. There is no room for multi-tasking when attending a patient: fully listening to a patient’s experience and fully focusing on their symptoms and medical background can save a life. Subtle information can be missed if attention is elsewhere.
Physicians, hospitals and their regulating organizations should recognize the danger of checking and using electronic devices while listening and attending to their patients and prohibit their use during patient time.