Physicians' Mobile Devices May Be Distracting, Dangerous

Although iPads allow physicians to show patients diagrams, medical records and photos by their bedside, the mobile technology may offer more distractions than benefits, according to a Kaiser Health News report.

Physicians who carry mobile devices may receive texts, e-mails, Facebook messages, tweets and other notifications that distract them from patient care. While distractions of that nature for office workers may not be a huge problem, for physicians it could be a matter of life or death, according to the report.

For instance, John Halamka, MD, CIO of Beth Israel in New York City, a teaching hospital for Harvard Medical School, reviewed a case study in December 2011 in which a physician forgot to complete a drug order for a patient's blood thinner because she received a notification for a party. The patient required open-heart surgery and almost died as a result.

Additionally, recent surveys have shown that physicians use their cell phones during procedures, and many admit to texting or emailing during procedures. Other studies have show that such disruptions are linked to increased clinical errors.

However, some physicians and administrators believe that mobile devices are no more distracting than other hospital elements such as nurses, patients or interns, according to the report.

More Articles on Mobile Devices in Healthcare:

ONC to Discuss Health Information Security at Mobile Device Roundtable on March 16
ONC Launches Privacy, Security Best Practices for Mobile Devices Project
7 Must-Have iPad Apps for Healthcare Executives

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