Most people have heard of distracted driving, where activities like eating, using a cell phone, texting or changing radio stations can cause a loss of focus and result in car accidents. A recent study from the University of Kentucky Medical Center examined the type of distractions surgeons commonly experience to determine what the effect was on performance during surgery.
They looked at the ability of surgeons to understand and repeat words during simulated surgical procedure using background noise and music. The study found that when the surgeon was engaged in a task, music could become a significant barrier to comprehension. Mistakes resulting from distractions or misunderstandings that cause injuries to patents during surgery would be medical malpractice.
A different study found that 50 percent of younger surgeons made serious errors during a simulated gall bladder surgery when distracted by a cellphone ringing, political discussions and other common noises in the operating room. The study found only one of the 18 surgeons made an error when there were no distractions.
And just as drowsy driving increases the risk of a car accident by fatigued drivers, surgeons who are sleep-deprived can cause injuries to patients. A study found that during elective surgery, surgeons who had six or fewer hours of sleep the night before caused a significant increase in complications in their patients.
Like most complex tasks, surgery is best performed by a well-rested doctor in a non-distracting environment. If you have suffered medical malpractice during surgery, speak with an attorney, who can investigate your facts to determine if distractions and fatigue were the cause of your injuries.
Source: Scripps Howard News Service, "From ringing phones to sleep deprivation: Distractions increase surgeons' potential for mistakes," Lee Bowman, May 16, 2013