Increasing Reliance on Electronic Devices Impacts Patient Safety

Hospitals around the country have fostered a more data-dependent approach to the treatment of patients, and this has meant handing iPADs, smart phones, laptops and other electronic devices to doctors, nurses and technicians.  Such access to information at one’s fingertips is believed to enhance patient safety, by reducing errors, and increasing access to patient data.  However, many hospitals haven’t bothered to set down strict rules for the use of electronic devices on the job.  As a result, Hawaii medical malpractice lawyers are coming across a number of shocking cases involving the use of cell phones and other devices by healthcare personnel for personal reasons, from around the country.

The New York Times is running an exposé on the role of distractions in American hospitals.  The availability and use of technology has never been more widespread in American hospitals as it is now.  There’s no doubt that technology can greatly benefit patient safety, increasing accuracy, streamlining operations and increasing efficiency.  Unfortunately, when misused, these devices can also be major distractions.  A number of cases reported in the NYT involve  technicians, nurses and even doctors found using smart phones and other devices for personal reasons during inappropriate times, like during a procedure or while operating important medical equipment. 

Distraction behind the wheel has been getting a lot of attention from national and state transportation safety agencies.  Unfortunately, while it is easy to measure the impact of distracted driving on highway safety, it is not that easy to lay a finger on the precise amount of damage that distracted doctoring causes.  Hospitals would do well to restrict the use of devices only to professional and patient-related uses, and ban personal use of these devices altogether.

Posted in Medical Malpractice

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