We are all familiar with how dangerous cell phone use can be while we are driving, but another place where they can be just as dangerous – and one where you probably have not thought about it – is the operating room. A recent report reveals that cell phone use in the operating room is much more prevalent than most people may have realized but just as dangerous you might think.
Although a patient who is in an operating room, just about to go under anesthesia, may believe that the medical personnel who is on his or her cell phone may be checking on some medical data, they are also likely to be checking Facebook or texting with a friend.
Many medical personnel who were interviewed for the report – which was prepared by Kaiser Health News and the Washington Post – described incidents where colleagues were on their cell phone checking their social media or even online shopping – instead of completely focusing on the patient in the operating room. There were even stories of some personnel who hid their phones in drawers and checked on them when they thought other medical staff were not looking.
But these types of distractions can be fatal. One incident cited in the report happened when an anesthesiologist was supposed to be monitoring a patient who was undergoing surgery. However, twenty minutes lapsed before the anesthesiologist noticed the woman’s oxygen levels had dropped – allegedly because he was on his cell phone the whole time sending emails and text messages. The woman died during the operation.
One of the most notorious cases cited was that of comedienne Joan Rivers, who suffered cardiac arrest during a throat procedure and died a few days later. It was revealed that one of the doctors performing the procedure took photos with his cell phone during the operation.
Several medical associations, including the American College of Surgeons and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, say that there needs to be a concise set of rules established regarding cell phone use in operating rooms. They all agree that surgical teams need to be focused on their patient and not on their cell phones.
If you have been injured during a medical procedure caused by the negligence of medical personnel, contact an experienced North Carolina medical malpractice attorney to find out what financial compensation you may be entitled to for your pain and loss.