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Surgical errors increase when doctors are distracted

| May 24, 2013 | Surgical Errors

The quality of care that Massachusetts residents receive when they go to a hospital for a surgical procedure may depend on how many distractions are present in the operating room. Surgical rooms are not always quiet and interruption-free. Medical machinery often makes sounds, medical professionals are not always able to turn off communication devices and some surgeons listen to music while operating. This is of concern because recent studies suggest that the more distractions doctors have to deal with, the more likely they are to make surgical errors.

A study done by the University of Kentucky Medical Center found that in the presence of background noise, doctors’ ability to understand and repeat unpredictable words back to researchers was diminished; however, a doctor’s speech comprehension was impacted by music only when they were performing a task. Music has long been a point of contention for medical professionals; some believe it reduces concentration while others feel that it is soothing and helps surgeons focus on their work.

Word comprehension isn’t the only thing that impacts patient care. An Oregon State University research team found that residents made mistakes almost 50 percent of the time when they were distracted during a simulated gall-bladder removal. Frequently, the errors made in the simulated surgery could have led to life threatening consequences in real life and included damaging organs and arteries.

When someone seeks medical treatment, they should not have to worry that their doctor’s attention is divided. If an individual has been harmed by a doctor, an attorney could help them understand their legal options and help them determine what compensation they may be eligible for.

Source: News Channel 5, “From ringing phones to sleep deprivation: Distractions increase surgeons”, Lee Bowman, May 16, 2013


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