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Texting and Checking Social Media During Surgery?

July 22, 2015 by Joseph J. Manna

On July 13, 2015, the Washington Post published a story called, “Do Cellphones Belong in the Operating Room?” The article discusses the fact that some medical professionals routinely use cellphones for social media and other non-patient related purposes while caring for patients. These distractions may have disastrous results, including unnecessary injuries and other potential medical malpractice issues.

Professional associations warn of dangers to patients

According to the article, “In interviews, many [medical providers] described co-workers texting friends and relatives from the surgical suite. Some spoke of colleagues who hide a phone in a drawer and check it when they think no one is watching.”

A surgeon interviewed for the story said, “Sometimes it’s just stuff like shopping or checking Facebook. The problem is that it does lead to distraction.” The surgeon also said that texting while operating can result in medical errors or lax safety procedures, such as forgetting to check a patient’s identity.

Although various medical and physician associations have been warning about the dangers of texting while providing patient care, the problem is increasingly pervasive. In fact, the ECRI Institute, which focuses on health care quality, recently listed cellphone distraction among the top 10 risks to patient safety.

Patients deserve their doctor’s full attention

A doctor interviewed for the story pointed out that, even when a health care center prohibited cellphone use in the operating room, “it is a policy that is routinely violated.”

Diagnosing the problem is easy, according to a professor of medicine who was quoted in the article and who has written extensively on the subject. “Once we get into or start using our cellphones, we separate ourselves from the reality of where we are,” he said. “It’s self-evident: If you’re staring at a phone, you’re not staring at the monitors.”

Because people can check their phones for both personal information and work-related material, it’s easy for the devices to distract providers, according to another professor of medicine, who is an expert in patient safety. “It’s not that different from texting and driving,” the article quotes him saying. “There are supposed to be no distractions.”

Who can help?

Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria, located in Buffalo, New York, is highly experienced in medical malpractice cases, including those involving surgery errors. The firm has decades of experience investigating complex medical procedures and hospital operations to expose substandard care and aggressively seeking just compensation for injured patients.

Lipsitz Green is widely acclaimed by peers and clients alike. Our lawyers have been named “Top Listed in Buffalo, NY” for Medical Malpractice Law—Plaintiffs by Best Lawyers in America. If you believe you have the grounds for a case on behalf of yourself or a loved one, please contact our highly qualified medical malpractice lawyers.

This article does not purport to give legal advice and is for informational purposes only.

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