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“A resident observing the surgery takes a call on his cell phone. The scrub nurse flips through images of wedding dresses on her smartphone. The operating surgeon’s assistant steps in to ask a question about another patient. The anesthesiologist taps his foot in time to the beat of the music in his earbud. It’s just another day in the OR (operating room).” (From a doctors’ discussion on how distractions in the operating room threaten patient safety, article appearing in the journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.)
A commentary by Peter J. Papadakos, MD, anesthesiologist and director of critical care at the University of Rochester Medical Center in upstate New York, first published in Anesthesiology News, focused on his concerns that the non-medical use of wireless devices, such as smartphones and tablet computers, would be distracting. He also related his anecdotal experience of seeing OR staff surfing the Internet during a surgery. The New York Times later picked up and expanded upon this issue.
Hospitals and doctors’ offices, hoping to curb medical error, have invested heavily to put computers, smartphones and other devices into the hands of medical staff for instant access to patient data, drug information... , however the wealth of data on the screen — the “iPatient” — sometimes gets all the attention.
“You walk around the hospital, and what you see is not funny,” said Dr. Peter J. Papadakos, who added that he had seen nurses, doctors and other staff members glued to their phones, computers and iPads. “You justify carrying devices around the hospital to do medical records,” he said. “But you can surf the Internet or do Facebook, and sometimes, for whatever reason, Facebook is more tempting...
“My gut feeling is lives are in danger.”