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Distracted Doctoring? Smartphones And Impact On Quality Patient Care

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Thanks to legislative measures and public awareness campaigns about the dangers of distracted driving, fewer motorists are texting, talking, on the phone, or surfing the internet while behind the wheel. However, there is a risk involved with smartphone use you might not have considered: Distracted doctoring by physicians who just cannot put their device down when treating patients. The National Institutes of Health pointed out the problem years ago, when smartphones were no longer just a way to talk to others. The technology began to take over many aspects of life for users, personally and professionally.

Distracted doctoring puts patient safety at risk in much the same way as texting drivers create threats on the roadway. When this type of misconduct causes injuries, it may amount to medical malpractice, for which you may have legal remedies under Florida law. A Tampa medical malpractice attorney can provide specifics, but it is important to review some basics about this disturbing trend.

Problem of Distractions in Health Care 

Of the three ways that smartphone use impacts drivers, it is the cognitive that affects doctors more than the visual and manual interference. When a physician’s attention is on the device, it is diverted from the patient. The distraction may come through common entertainment activities, but there are additional concerns when you consider the fact that doctors are not always using their device for professional reasons. Health care providers interact with EMRs, place lab and medication orders, review test results, and many other tasks via smartphones. 

Take some examples of distracted doctoring taken from recent headlines:

  • A doctor was completing progress and physician notes on his patients for the day, while waiting for a return call on a page. When switching among the different mobile apps, the physician placed a mediation order for Patient A in Patient B’s record.
  • After a patient coded and died on the operating table, the family filed a wrongful death lawsuit. Through discovery, they found that the anesthesiologist was interacting with a cell phone multiple times during the procedure – including Facebook activities and texting 8 minutes before the code blue. 

How Distracted Doctoring Constitutes Medical Malpractice 

Under Florida law, you must prove that you suffered injuries because a physician deviated from the applicable medical standard of care in delivering treatment. The measurement is what a doctor with the same skills and training would do when faced with the same circumstances.

A reasonably prudent health care provider would probably put their smartphone down when interacting with patients, unless it was somehow necessary for treatment. As such, distracted doctoring may represent a departure from the standard of care and support a claim for medical malpractice.

Speak to a Florida Medical Malpractice Attorney Lawyer About Your Options 

To learn more about distracted doctoring and your rights, please contact Greco & Wozniak P.A. at 813.223.7849 or via our website. We can schedule a no-cost consultation to review your circumstances and explain what to expect with the legal process. Our firm is proud to serve individuals in Hillsborough County and throughout the region from our offices in Tampa, FL.

Resource:

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3437811/

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