Distractions lead to surgeons’ mistakes

Whenever a patient undergoes surgery, a very important relationship of trust is built between them and the doctors, nurses, and assistants in the operating room. Everyday across America, surgeons perform near-miracles that save the lives and limbs of men and women of all ages.

Conversely, surgery procedures also expose patients to an especially dangerous array of complications and injury, and what was first intended to be a healing operation can give rise to a serious new injury or condition if doctors are careless, negligent, or distracted. Now, a new national study has illuminated the continuing acute problem of interruptions and distractions, particularly amongst younger surgeons. The results are something that all Philadelphia residents will want to consider.

In a simulated operating room environment, a study published last month in the “Archives of Surgery” found that 44 percent of surgeons ages 27 to 35 made a “significant mistake” when distracted by a cell phone ring, a question regarding another patient, or an ongoing conversation between nurses within earshot.

These simulated disruptions, too frequent happenings in real surgery procedures, gave rise to lapses of attention and surgical errors that, under real conditions, would have caused serious bodily harm to the patient.

The same study found that surgeons tested in the afternoon were more susceptible to distractions, and also indicated that despite the errors among younger surgeons, raised age and experience did not rule out the likelihood that an older doctor may also commit a serious mistake if distracted.

Given a patient’s vulnerability and impaired perception during surgery, doctor and other medical providers have an especially vivid responsibility to provide proper, undistracted care. The repercussions of a mistake committed while operating could have life long, and potentially life-threatening, effects. Should medical malpractice take place on account of OR distractions, an attorney can assist in preparing a strong case for rightful compensation.

Source: iVillage, “Young Surgeons May Be Easily Distracted,” Dec. 4, 2012

•· Our firm has experience handling a variety of medical malpractice cases in and around Pennsylvania. For more information, please visit our Philadelphia medical malpractice page.



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