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How might smartphones lead to medical errors?

On Behalf of | Feb 27, 2023 | Medical Malpractice

Smartphones have inspired fantastic advantages, allowing individuals to stay in contact wherever they are. Yet, for all their benefits, there are significant disadvantages to smartphone use in certain contexts.

One you might not have considered is their ability to distract medical staff.

Medical care often requires total concentration

Providing medical care is like playing chess or a particularly complex piece of music in that you cannot afford to get distracted. Yet modern hospitals are frenetic, noisy places. Cell phones contribute greatly to that noise. For example, cell phones can distract providers in surgical settings and these distractions can lead to errors:

  • Staff may message a surgeon over urgent matters: A junior doctor has a patient dying in front of them. They are unsure what to do, so they call or message a senior doctor for urgent help. That’s fine, but what if that senior doctor is halfway through a complex operation?
  • Other staff in the room may have their phones on: Maybe the surgeon switched their phone off, but it is unlikely everyone in the room has. Imagine a nurse’s Rihanna ringtone going off just before you are about to make a crucial incision.
  • Other people in the vicinity may be using phones: A patient in a room nearby is having a loud conversation with their friend about the intimate details of Brad’s night out with Jessica. Medical staff may struggle to stay focused on the routine operation they are performing in the face of such tantalizing gossip.

Hospitals and medical staff need to take measures to reduce the chance that cell phones may become a dangerous distraction. If they fail to do so and harm you as a result, you’ll want to understand your legal options.


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