Technology has helped vastly improve a lot of aspects of our life, but there are a few causes of concern. One of the major problems created by technology has been distracted driving. When a driver fails to pay attention to the road ahead the results can be deadly.
So what about distracted doctoring? Do the tablets and smartphones now being used by doctors divert their attention enough to increase the medical malpractice risk? Ironically, one doctor from a teaching hospital for Harvard Medical School -- which is also one of the most technically advanced -- believes that there is a serious risk.
The issue, he says, is that the devices used by the doctors are not just for on the job purposes. Alerts are constantly going off that signify a new email, text message, voicemail or missed call. Many of these are not relevant to the job at all, but are purely personal.
Even when the doctors do not respond to any of the messages, their attention is diverted as they attempt to multi-task between reading or listening to the messages and talking or listening to the patient. "I think all of us who use mobile devices have what I will call continuous partial attention," he said.
When it comes to being a doctor, every small detail can make the difference between life and death. The continuous partial attention leaves them susceptible to missing those vital details. Facts back up the doctor's belief. A survey conducted in 2010 showed that 55 percent of medical technicians operating heart-lung machines talked on their cellphones during the procedure, 50 percent texted and another 21 percent checked their emails.
Any little misstep can cause deadly results. A failure to hear an allergy, a decimal error in an IV drip or a failure to take notice of a symptom could lead to misdiagnosis and medical malpractice.
Source: Kaiser Health News, "Doctors' Smartphones And iPads May Be Distracting," Jenny Gold, March 26, 2012