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Distracted Midwifing / Smartphone Use

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See also:

    Legal Issues

Subsections on this page:


Distracted Practice and Patient Safety: The Healthcare Team Experience.
Nurs Forum. 2017 Jul;52(3):149-164. doi: 10.1111/nuf.12173. Epub 2016 Jul 19.
D'Esmond LK1.

Distracted practice is an individual human experience that occurs when there are not enough cognitive resources available to effectively complete the task at hand. In that moment an individual shifts from thinking critically, being able to complete their current task without error, to not thinking critically and working in an automatic mode. This is when errors occur. Understanding the role of distracted practice is essential for reducing errors and improving the quality of care. Additional research is needed to evaluate intervention strategies to reduce distracted practice.

Distracted Doctors Linked to Medical Errors [12/23/11] By Andrew Chow, Esq.
Recent studies have diagnosed a growing problem in operating rooms: Distracted doctors and surgical staff are often texting or surfing the web while performing patient procedures. It's led to medical errors and lawsuits.

"My gut feeling is lives are in danger," a doctor and author of one of the studies told The New York Times. "We're not educating people about the problem, and it's getting worse."

Do Cell Phones Belong In The Operating Room? [from Kaiser 7/14/15] by Shefali Luthra [reproduced on Medscape]

In interviews, many described co-workers’ texting friends and relatives from the surgical suite.

“Once we get into or start using our cellphones, we separate ourselves from the reality of where we are,” he said. “It’s self-evident: If you’re staring at a phone, you’re not staring at the monitors.”

How cellphones may lead to medical errors in operating rooms [from a medical malpractice firm] - They discuss the risk of infection, but the focus is on distraction and medical errors: "Perhaps of even greater concern, however, is the potential for medical professionals to become distracted by the use of cellphones in the operating room which may lead to medical errors."

Can Cell Phone Use by Medical Personnel Increase Patient Safety?
[2/15/06] by Jennifer Anderson - this study is mostly about the fact that cellphones avoid the slight delay (2-3 minutes) inherent in the pager system and the time required to return the page via phone.  This is very relevant to anesthesiologists working in the hospital environment, but not so much to homebirth midwives.

Study: Cell phones reduce medical errors [2/2/06] - this looks like a review of the same study as above, saying that it makes healthcare faster.

and I'm guessing this is the actual study that the above two articles are based on.

Communication devices in the operating room.
Curr Opin Anaesthesiol. 2006 Dec;19(6):655-9.
Ruskin KJ1.

Anesthesiologists rely on a wide variety of information to make decisions, including vital signs, laboratory values, and entries in the medical record. Devices such as PDAs and computers with wireless networking can be used to access this information. Mobile telephones can be used to get help or ask for advice, and are more efficient than radio pagers. Voice over Internet protocol is a new technology that allows voice conversations to be routed over computer networks. It is widely believed that wireless devices can cause life-threatening interference with medical devices. The actual risk is very low, and is offset by a significant reduction in medical errors that results from more efficient communication.

Using common technology like cellular telephones and wireless networks is a simple, cost-effective way to improve patient care. 


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