As Doctors Use More Devices, Potential for Distraction Grows

On December 14, 2011, the New York Times published an article on the emerging problem of “distracted doctoring”, a term describing the negative consequences of doctors having electronic devices, such as computers, tablets and cell phones, readily available when tending to patients. Although computers and iPads have the benefit of providing doctors with instant access to a patient’s medical records, they can have the unintended consequence of distracting a doctor from providing proper care and attention to the patient. Studies have shown that the use of cellphones and other electronic devices in the medical setting can also distract and hinder the patient-doctor relationship.

The article gives multiple examples of problems arising from doctors having technological gadgets in a medical setting. These include texting and making phone calls while operating, checking e-mail instead of observing an operation, and studying on the operating room computer instead of observing the procedure at hand. Electronic gadgets can thus create dangerous distractions that may put a patient’s life in danger.

Although many doctors laud the benefits of using modern technology to aid in a patient’s care, they also recognize that these devices should not come between a doctor and his or her patient. Due to the concerns presented by an increased use of electronic devices in the medical setting, many facilities are now restricting the use of these gadgets in critical locations, such as in operating rooms.

See the full New York Times article at: