Are Distracted Doctors Dangerous to Florida Patients?

Jan 3, 2012 Posted by in Medical Malpractice

Our South Florida car accident attorneys have continued to warn residents about the dangers of texting or talking on a cell phone while driving. The leading cause of accidents in Florida is distracted driving. Floridians now also have to worry about the dangers of “distracted doctoring” – doctors that text while caring for a patient.

A New York Times article reports many hospitals have “invested heavily” in equipping their doctors and nurses with the newest technology, including smartphones and iPads. But we have our concerns that all of this technology leaves doctors and nurses focusing on their latest gadget and not the patient.

According to the large number of studies that have been conducted on the dangers of texting and driving, it is clear that humans are not well equipped to multi-task. Even walking and talking on a cell phone is dangerous. In fact, a 2010 study found that pedestrians that are walking while talking on a cell phone take 25 percent longer to cross an intersection and are more likely to be hit than those who were not on the phone.

A Harvard Study conducted in 1999 calls the inability to perceive objects that do not receive our focused attention “inattentional blindness.” In a follow-up to this study, researchers found that the usage of cell phones may cause inattentional blindness, even during simple activities that require few cognitive resources.

Clearly, doctors and other medical professionals who hold the lives of their patients in their hands do not have the capacity to give their complete attention while texting or interacting with other electronic devices. Yet that doesn’t stop them from doing it.

In a survey referred to by the NY Times, 55 percent of the 439 medical technicians questioned admitted to either talking or texting on their cell phones while monitoring heart bypass machines or during surgery. These same technicians also admitted that talking or texting during surgery is “always an unsafe practice.”

While the use of Twitter and communicating via Facebook with patients and other doctors is gaining in popularity and can speed the transfer of critical medical information, it is important that usage be limited to appropriate times.

Dr. Peter J. Papadakos is an anesthesiologist and director of critical care at the University of Rochester Medical Center. He is also the author of an article on distracted doctoring in Anesthesiology News. He told the NY Times, “My gut feeling is lives are in danger. We’re not educating people about the problem [of electronic distractions], and it’s getting worse.”

Unfortunately, several patients have found out the hard way that distracted doctoring can cause serious, permanent damage. In one case, a patient was paralyzed during surgery while the neurosurgeon talked on a cellphone.

Dr. Charles G. Prober, the Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education at Stanford Medical School, states that devices have a great capability to decrease risk. However,
the last thing they’d like to see coming between the doctor and his patient is the computer.

Our Treasure Coast attorneys encourage our local hospital administrators to quickly put an end to this life-threatening behavior and to restrict the use of cell phones and non-medical electronics in operating rooms and critical care areas.

Contact a Trusted South Florida Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If you suspect your injuries or the injury or death of a loved being cared for by a medical professional was caused by medical errors, a South Florida medical malpractice attorney with more than 36 years of legal experience can evaluate the circumstances of your medical injury and advise you on your legal options. I am attorney Philip DeBerard. My legal practice concentrates on representing victims of serious accidents and injuries caused by the negligence of others, including medical malpractice.

Our law firm represents victims of medical malpractice across South Florida, including Port St. Lucie, Okeechobee, Stuart, Fort Pierce, Jupiter, Vero Beach and Palm Beach, and throughout South Florida and the Treasure Coast.

Call 1-800-299-8878 now to speak with a knowledgeable Florida car accident attorney or fill out our online contact form.

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