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The disturbing link between surgery mistakes and distractions

As people’s every day routines and lifestyles continue to be impacted by the increasing use of mobile phones and other devices, more concerns are being raised over user distraction and accident rates. For instance, it is now widely understood that issues relating to cell phone use and distracted driving can have catastrophic consequences for motorists. Similar concerns are being raised by patient advocates and members of the medical industry, and revolve around distractions that occur in the operating room.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, approximately two thirds of surgeons across the country use their cell phones in operating rooms and intensive care units. In fact, physicians are increasingly incorporating the use of personal cell phones and other digital devices into their professional practices. A cell phone camera can be used to take pictures of an active medical procedure, while the device can also serve as a music player during surgery. It is for that reason that some are questioning the use and safety of such technologies in the operating room.

One news source reported on the role that distractions play in the operating room and explained that medical mistakes increase with the rise in unpredictable noises and music. The results of one study illustrated that surgeons’ ability to understand and repeat words depended significantly on the type and level of distraction they were exposed to. Similarly, another study showed that young surgeons committed considerably more surgical errors when they were distracted by noises like conversation and cell phones in the operating room as opposed to working in a quiet environment.

Exact figures relating to distracted behaviors like cell phone use and surgery mistakes are difficult to calculate. Therefore, experts can only speculate on the prevalence of these types of medical malpractice incidents.

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