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Distracted doctors may place you in danger

| Sep 7, 2017 | Doctor Errors

Few people approach the prospect of surgery without some concerns. After all, there are not many situations in which you are so vulnerable as when you are unconscious on the operating table. Obviously, it takes a great deal of trust to submit to surgery, even one that may save your life.

You may have in mind the images of TV surgeons bent over their tasks, focused on the patient. Their hands are sterile, and they may even shout at someone who enters the room without a mask. Some TV doctors prefer silence while others concentrate better with certain music playing in the background. In reality, however, it seems that more doctors are operating with their cellphones in hand.

The risks of mobile devices in the hands of surgeons

Recent incidents resulting in patient injuries and deaths have brought the use of cellphones in surgery to the attention of the medical community. In one case, a surgeon reportedly made phone calls, texted, posted pictures of the surgery on Facebook and surfed the internet all while supposedly performing a surgical procedure on a patient who subsequently died from complications. Another doctor sent over 200 text messages during similar operations. The most crucial arguments against using mobile devices during surgery include:

  • Devices, especially certain apps, may be a distraction to some doctors, placing you in danger.
  • Your patient information stored or transmitted through a doctor’s cellphone is rarely secure.
  • Cellphones are notorious breeding grounds for germs and bacteria, even after doctors follow disinfection procedures.

While your surgeon may argue that having a device close by during surgery may save time if the doctor needs to access medical information or your patient files, the risk of infecting you with a contaminated phone is high, especially since few hospitals in Massachusetts have established guidelines for sterilizing devices before taking them into the operating room.

It seems so obvious

Just as driving a car requires you to keep your eyes, hands and mind on what you are doing, so does performing a surgical procedure. In both cases, lives are at stake, and an error made in a moment of distraction can result in devastating consequences. 


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