You’ve probably heard of distracted driving. However, the term “distracted doctoring” may be a brand new concept to you. Like any Professional, Employee or Worker, Doctors may become distracted by the mobile devices they carry. Smartphones can jeopardize the safety and health of their patients. Even though these devices provide much more efficient communication and access to data, the phone can also be a tool of distraction that diminishes work performance. In the medical field this can result in disastrous consequences for the patient.
The practice of distracted doctoring
A doctor or medical professional engages in the practice of distracted doctoring when he or she removes required attention away from the patient onto a mobile device. Unfortunately, the occurrence of this distracting activity among medical professionals has increased with the dispersion of mobile devices in our society. Some medical professionals can be found posting on Facebook, texting, or generally surfing the Internet while engaged in medical care activities, including surgery.
Even going back a number of years to 2010, a peer-reviewed survey at that time involving 439 medical practitioners who were conducting cardiopulmonary bypasses revealed a startling statistic. Among these practitioners, about 49 percent admitted to using a cell phone during a bypass procedure. Close to one-fourth of those surveyed reported using email while conducting surgery and about half admitted to sending text messages during surgery.
Issues beyond distraction
Beyond the hindrance involved with distraction caused by the use of smart phones and mobile devices in the medical care environment, there is also the issue of how these devices can interfere with vital medical care and equipment. Mobile devices are not necessarily sanitary 100 percent of the time. They can introduce bacteria and viruses into critical care environments involving patients who must be protected from infection hazards.
Doctors who allow themselves to become distracted by their mobile devices could potentially face a medical malpractice claim from an injured patient. Such a claim may assert that the doctor failed to provide the accepted standard of care that a competent medical professional would apply in similar or the same circumstances.
Liability of the doctor
Establishing liability in distracted doctoring cases can be challenging. The plaintiff has to prove several key elements. These are:
- The doctor owed a duty of care to the patient.
- The doctor violated this duty of care by averting his or her attention away from the patient to a smartphone or other mobile device or distraction.
- This breach of expected care directly caused the harm to the patient.
- That harm resulted in damages.
If you have sustained an injury due to a medical error involving distracted doctoring or any other reason, the Maryland medical malpractice attorneys at Plaxen & Adler, P.A. are here to help you. We can fight intelligently and vigorously for the compensation you are owed for your losses. To set up a free evaluation of your case, call us today at 410.988.4449 or complete our contact form.