Medical malpractice occurs all over Pennsylvania and even right here in Norristown. In 2016 there were 105 medical malpractice cases filed in Norristown alone. This number may not be an accurate reflection of 2016 medical malpractice cases in Norristown however, because it does not include settlements that were agreed to before cases had to be filed. A trend our medical malpractice experts at The Weitz Firm, LLC have been noticing over the last few years is that more and more malpractice cases involve smartphone distractions that cause medical professionals to make mistakes causing patient injuries and even death.
Let’s face it, we are a society that is tied by all means to our cell phones. These devices keep up connected to friends, family, games, directions, events, photos and so much more. Cellphones have established a reputation as a lifeline to access the world’s information.
Medical professionals have a history of using smartphones to access encrypted messages and secure medical records. They can even converse with colleagues. This might sound like a good idea, but at the same time, smartphones have been known to be the source of some pretty nasty distractions that resulted in life-threatening situations.
Doctors and other medical professionals use smartphones for some legitimate reasons that aid in their practice of medicine. They can use them to review and update medical records, they use medical information resources such as textbooks and medical literature, they communicate with patients and colleagues, and they use clinical apps for efficiency and accuracy. See below for a description of some of the most popular clinical apps used by doctors:
Medscape – Can be used to retrieve news articles from medical sources and it has a clinical reference section including drug information and medical calculators.
MDCalc – Gives access to hundreds of medical tools to help doctors make decisions about patient care.
NEJM This Week – Doctors can listen to, search, and share content from the New England Journal of Medicine.
Epocrates – Allows doctors to connect with other doctors for referrals and consults. It contains information for prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines and has other functions such as calculators and insurance information.
Figure 1– This app is used to view and share medical images with other physicians.
Doximity – The majority of doctors in the United States are members of this social networking platform for doctors.
UpToDate – This is a database of up to the minute medical information organized by topic.
Read by QxMD – This app helps to download and organize medical literature and journals for easy access.
In comparison with research conducted on distracted driving, texting while driving increases the odds of an accident significantly. The similarities between distracted driving and distracted doctoring are uncanny. The research mentions that both driving and doctoring have become daily tasks in which drivers and doctors think they can safely perform while doing another activity simultaneously.
One example suggests that a resident began using her phone to enter an order to discontinue an inpatient’s blood thinner order. Right in the middle of doing that, the resident was distracted by a text message from a friend asking about upcoming plans. The resident never finished entering the order and the patient later required open-heart surgery to remove blood filling the sac around the heart.
Multitasking is not really about performing many different tasks at the same time. Ultimately, it shifts your attention to those different tasks. Scientists believe that each time one interrupts the cognitive process you increase your chances of error. You are pausing your train of thought that will make you less efficient and productive
We have found that although medical professionals are often using their smartphones to aid in their medical practice, sometimes they are not using their smartphones safely and appropriately. We have seen social media, personal text messaging, online shopping, and other types of smartphone use leading to medical mistakes. Some of the more common medical mistakes include:
Smartphones have been listed as one of the top ten technological dangers in health care. This is because of the growing number of surgical errors caused by one or more people on the surgery team being distracted by smartphone use. During a simulated surgery, researchers made sure to interrupt surgical residents with either a phone call or a person asking a question. Out of as many as 18 residents surveyed, 8 made surgical errors when they were interrupted. In contrast, when the residents were not interrupted only one made a mistake.
One can see why it is vital to ban cellphones from the operating room, but there are still those who resist the notion. Again, through a survey conducted, it was determined that half of the perfusionists, those responsible during heart surgery for heart-lung bypass machines, admitted to using their phone during operations. Wall Street Journal reported the problem of surgical errors has increased focus lately. Roughly 65% of adverse patient events are linked to surgeries. Hospitals are starting to realize that one of the key factors in improving patient safety is by adjusting operating room cultures.
During surgery, every patient deserves to have undivided attention from everyone In the room. However, distractions are real and pose a great threat. Those who have been injured because of a potential negligent medical professional should contact a medical malpractice attorney. Having the right attorney can assist injured patients in fully grasping what rights they have and whether or not compensation is applicable.
These are just a few common malpractice scenarios, but smartphone distractions can cause medical mistakes in many other ways as well. If you have sustained injuries due to a distracted doctor or other cause of medical malpractice, contact Norristown distracted doctor attorney, Eric Weitz, for a review of your case. We want to see that you are compensated for injuries caused by smartphone distractions and other negligent medical conduct.