Concerns Grow Over ‘Distracted Doctoring’

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NEW YORK, Dec. 15 (UPI) — Computers, smartphones and other devices intended to help U.S. medical staff avoid medical errors may in fact be proving a dangerous distraction, experts say.

Meant to give medical staff instant access to patient data, drug information and case studies, the technology is drawing criticism that doctors and nurses can be focused more on the screen than on the patient, The New York Times reported Thursday.

And it’s not always used as intended, critics say, citing examples of a surgeon making personal calls during an operation, a nurse checking airfares during surgery and a poll finding half of technicians running bypass machines admitting to texting during a procedure, the newspaper said.

Some have described the problem as “distracted doctoring.”

“You walk around the hospital, and what you see is not funny,” said Dr. Peter J. Papadakos, director of critical care at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York.

He has seen nurses, doctors and other staff members glued to their phones, computers and iPads, he said.

“You justify carrying devices around the hospital to do medical records,” he said. “But you can surf the Internet or do Facebook, and sometimes, for whatever reason, Facebook is more tempting.

“My gut feeling is lives are in danger,” Papadakos said.

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