It’s common knowledge that distracted driving can cause serious injury and death. What’s not as well known is that you can also be at risk on your way to the operating room—even if you’re not the one distracted by your phone.
How many times have you walked into a store or restaurant and seen employees on their phones while working? If you are equally attached to your smartphone, then you probably don’t mind, but what would you think if the doctor in charge of your upcoming operation checks their device while your life is in their hands?
It really happens. In April 2011, a 61-year-old woman checked into a Dallas hospital for an operation to correct an irregular heartbeat. It was a routine procedure, but she died 10 hours later. Her family alleged that the anesthesiologist had been using his iPad to send texts and check email during the surgery, resulting in a level of distraction that contributed to her death.
In one survey, some medical personnel admitted to seeing colleagues hide their phone in a drawer and check it when they think no one is looking. In other cases, surgeons openly took calls in the operating room. In a survey of over 400 medical technicians, 55% of the technicians who monitor bypass machines admitted to talking on their phones during surgery and half admitted to texting. Approximately 40% said they believed that smartphone use in the operating room was always unsafe, but admitted to doing it anyway.
This response is similar to what distracted drivers say after an accident. They know that texting and driving is not safe, but they do it anyway and simply hope that nothing goes wrong. They’re aware of the risk, but the allure of their smartphone is too strong.
Some doctors defend the presence of cell phones in the operating room by saying that they are loaded with medical apps containing information that surgeons may need during a procedure. They also say that the ability to access patient records quickly on their phone is beneficial if a complication arises during surgery.
According to a 2016 study by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, medical errors are now the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. It estimated that every year 250,000 people suffer from the effects of medical errors, and one has to wonder if smartphone usage is to blame.
When a doctor uses their smartphone during a critical medical procedure, the potential consequences are huge. You could experience life-changing injuries during a single second of distraction. If this happens to you, then contact a New York personal injury attorney who can protect your legal rights and hold that medical professional responsible for their deliberate oversight. Jayson Lutzky is a medical malpractice and personal injury attorney with an office in the Morris Park neighborhood of the Bronx, New York. He offers free in-person initial consultations and his office can be reached at 718-514-6619. Mr. Lutzky has over 35 years of legal experience and has helped many clients recover cash settlements to pay medical bills and compensate them for lost wages and pain and suffering after suffering from medical malpractice.