Imagine you walk into your local doctor’s office. They glance up from their laptop and tell you to sit down. They continue typing away and ask you what the matter is without once looking you in the eye. As you begin to explain, they let out a quiet chuckle, then apologize and say they are not laughing at you, but at the hilarious cat gif their girlfriend just sent to their phone. How confident would you feel?
When you are in surgery, the staff might be doing this, but you might not notice if you are under anesthesia. Distracted doctoring is a big problem due to the prevalence of electronic devices doctors now use.
Hospitals and doctors need to ensure electronics help not harm
Electronic devices can help doctors do their job. They might bring up your patient record on a tablet or send for a more experienced colleague to come and help via their phone. Yet, even if medical staff only use these tools for serious purposes, phones and tablets are distracting. That is why most states ban you from using them while driving.
When a doctor is attending to you, you have the right to expect their undivided attention. Any error could have serious consequences, so they need to focus on ensuring they get it right. Here are a few examples of how a doctor who is not paying full attention could harm you:
- They cut in the wrong place during an operation
- They forget to remove surgical items from your body
- They make the wrong diagnosis
- They miss vital symptoms allowing your condition to worsen
- They fail to hear you tell them of a drug you are taking and prescribe something that reacts badly with it
If a doctor made an error due to distraction, you might be able to bring a medical malpractice claim for any harm they did you.