Cell phones have become an important part of our lives. We perform many tasks on our phones, making it difficult to put them down. Unfortunately, our dependency on phones has made it increasingly common for us to be distracted while doing important activities, such as driving. Now, concerns about cell phone usage in operating rooms are starting to surface, as distracted doctors could pose a huge risk to patients.
Cell phone use in an operating room is much more common than one might assume. A recent report compiled by Kaiser Health News and the Washington Post contained anecdotal evidence of numerous medical personnel using cell phones while performing or assisting with medical procedures. Many of the healthcare professionals who were interviewed shared experiences of colleagues using their phones to use social media, send emails, or shop online. Some were even hiding their phones in drawers and checking them when they thought no one was looking. All incidents occurred while a patient was on the table.
Distracted Doctors Can Kill Patients
A physician who is distracted by their cell phone can result in disastrous and fatal consequences for patients. Even the most minor surgical procedures can have complications, and doctors and nurses must constantly be focused on the patient to prevent harm. One incident described in the report occurred when a patient’s oxygen levels dropped during surgery. The anesthesiologist was sending emails on their phone and did not notice the patient’s low oxygen level for 20 minutes. By then it was too late and the patient suffered fatal injuries during the procedure.
The report also included details on the passing of comedian and former late-night host, Joan Rivers, in 2014. Rivers was undergoing surgery on her throat when she went into cardiac arrest, and passed away three days later. It was revealed that her surgeon used his cell phone to take pictures of her while in the operating room. This kind of behavior is not only a distraction, but also an egregious violation of a patient’s privacy.
Multiple medical associations, including the American College of Surgeons and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, have agreed that rules should be put in place to regulate cell phone usage in operating rooms. When a patient is undergoing a procedure, all medical personnel in the room should be focused on the patient. If they cannot be trusted to do so with a cell phone on their person, then perhaps its time to ban cell phones from operating rooms altogether.
New Jersey Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy, LLP Fight for the Rights of Injured PatientsIf you or a loved one has suffered harm due to a distracted medical professional, the New Jersey medical malpractice lawyers at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy, LLP are here to help. We will prepare an aggressive legal strategy to hold those accountable for their negligence, and obtain you the compensation you deserve. With offices conveniently located in Edison, Red Bank, and Toms River, New Jersey, we help medical negligence victims throughout state. Call us today at 732-777-0100, or contact us online for a free consultation.