Doctors and nurses need to get things right. They need to administer the correct dosages of drugs, operate on the correct limb, and so on. Paying full attention to what they are doing will increase the chance they do get it right. Unfortunately, research shows they are often distracted.
Distraction has always existed, but the rise of handheld technology has increased the risk of distraction for everyone, no matter where they are and what they are doing. So, it is not surprising to see that doctors and nurses get distracted while at work and make mistakes.
Examples of distraction can include:
Ideally, they should turn them off, but like most people, they may keep them on all day in case the bank rings or their child’s school rings. Hospitals may even ring a member of staff to ask them to attend to a patient in another part of the hospital if there has been an emergency.
Other people’s phones
Hospitals can be noisy places. You may have patients or their friends and family using cell phones, and some ring tones can be hard to ignore, as can some voices.
Talking is a good thing, but it can also be incredibly distracting. Whether it is a conversation with a colleague about something other than the job at hand or the incessant laughter of someone across the hallway, they can all distract staff attending to patients.
Hospitals should take steps to limit distractions, such as citing surgical theaters well away from communal areas where loud conversation is more likely or insisting staff turn their phones off during surgery. But they cannot rule out distractions altogether. Hence, they should ensure staff follow a series of checks and balances to catch errors by someone who is distracted before they harm a patient. Understanding what systems were in place will be essential if you need to claim after suffering harm due to a doctor’s mistake that may have been down to distraction.