Distracted Doctoring: Physicians Text, Check Facebook in the OR

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Some hospitals are restricting physicians' use of smartphones, iPads and other devices to avoid an emerging phenomenon called "distracted doctoring," according to a New York Times report.

Devices have been linked to reduced medical errors, but serious problems arise when healthcare providers stray from work to check Facebook, buy airfare or text a friend.

Surveys have found 55 percent of technicians who monitor bypass machines in surgery acknowledged they had talked on their cellphones during surgery. Another half had even texted. The report also details the story of one patient who was left partially paralyzed after the operating neurosurgeon used a wireless headset to take personal calls during surgery.

Hospitals are beginning to curtail such activity and medical schools are trying to remind students to retain focus on the patient. An administrator at Oregon Health and Science University hospitals, for instance, has made all operating rooms "quiet zones" and banned any activity that is not related to patient care. A nurse was later reprimanded when she was seen checking airline prices on an operating room computer.

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