Arkansas Injury Lawyer Says Distracted Doctors are the Latest Medical Malpractice Issue
Little Rock, AR (Law Firm Newswire) March 23, 2012 - Hospital errors happen frequently, often resulting in lawsuits. The latest trending issue is a distracted doctor.
“Medical malpractice is tough enough on a victim without something new cropping up to make matters worse. However, with e-devices on the scene, there is a new problem developing - distracted doctoring. Distracted doctors don’t deliver effective care if they are not paying attention to their patient and the situation. That won’t happen if they are distracted by e-devices, iPads and smartphones,” says Michael G. Smith, an Arkansas injury lawyer and Arkansas accident lawyer, practicing personal injury law in Arkansas.
Technology has caught up with the medical profession and not in a good way. Distracted doctoring is the equivalent to distracted driving without the car wreck. Instead, the patient may end up severely harmed or dead because a doctor was too busy reading their text messages or messaging in return to properly treat the patient.
“Has your doctor ever given you the wrong prescription or directions for taking a drug while they were trying to respond to text messages? Have they ever given you a strange answer to a question you asked because their attention was not fully focused on you? If you’ve been in a situation like this and got the wrong medications that harmed you, you need to discuss the situation with a qualified personal injury lawyer,” Smith advised.
There is no question the electronic devices allow a doctor to get access to important patient information, and thus they have a useful role in medical treatment. However, when the physician focuses on the e-device, to the exclusion of the patient, the chances of medical malpractice and hospital errors soars.
This new trend is not a surprise given the fact that e-medical records are becoming the in thing to have as opposed to paper charts. It is very easy and convenient to carry a portable e-device to access records right on the spot. This new way to chart is understandable when everything else in the world seems to be digitalized.
“But, and this is a ‘big’ but, people tend to get glued to their e-device screen and the information scrolling in front of them, to the exclusion of the patient, even if they are right in front of them. It’s rude for one thing, but more than that, it has the potential to be dangerous,” Smith observed. “How many times have you been in a restaurant and seen two people trying to have a conversation, which is impossible when both are glued to their Blackberry screens and reading text messages. If a doctor messes up because they were texting or not listening, it is far more serious than forgetting to order the entrée for lunch.”
The fact is that more people, and that includes doctors, are far more interested in what is going on with their Facebook account than in listening to a patient’s questions. Distractions can even include games, Internet research, and jokes; the list is endless and just about every doctor will be guilty of goofing off with their e-devices. The problem is when they do it while they are with a patient and don’t hear the person tell them their incision is flaming red, or that they are coughing up blood or cannot stop throwing up. A missed cue like this can drastically affect patient care and welfare.
“It is definitely not a stretch to say that patient’s lives depend on the doctor paying close attention to what they are told, see and hear. With a computer game or a Facebook message capturing their attention, they may miss the very thing that will kill their patient. If you think this is nonsense, someone has already started documenting this trend,” revealed Smith.
For instance, in one peer reviewed survey of 439 medical technicians, just about 55 percent of them confessed they had been on a cell phone talking, even while they were supposed to be monitoring a bypass machine during an operation. Some even said they texted during surgery. That should send a chill straight down the spines of Americans about to go to the hospital for a procedure. While hospital errors do not happen all the time, the potential for them to be deadly is real. It will take just one death from distracted doctoring for the medical profession to wake up. Whether they stop using e-devices during rounds or when dealing with patients is another matter.
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