Law Office of Robert A. Miller
Serving Oregon Medical Malpractice And Car Accident Clients Statewide
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Was your surgical error due to cellphone usage in the OR?

Should surgeons be permitted to bring their mobile devices into your surgical procedure? A recent article shows that surgeons and other health care professionals are increasingly distracted by their smartphones and other devices during medical procedures. The potential for a smartphone to distract from surgery is now being blamed for surgical errors in Oregon and other states. A careless surgeon surfing the Web while in the midst of a procedure could cause potentially fatal blunders. Even support staff -- such as surgical technicians -- have been found using their cellphones during procedures, limiting their ability to focus on the patient's urgent needs.

Why is this problem coming to light now? In 2011, a victim died during surgery designed to correct her irregular heartbeat. The reason: Negligent operating room staff were busy using their tablets and surfing the Internet instead of paying attention to the patient's condition. The anesthesiologist in the case was accused of negligence because he failed to monitor the victim's blood-oxygen content for several minutes. A lawsuit resulted. More recently, smartphones were blamed for the continued spread of Ebola in some African medical facilities; the virus contaminated the phones that unwitting physicians carried from room to room while treating victims of the deadly disease. Finally, phones can interfere with medical equipment, putting patients' well-being at risk. The problem has become so severe that think-tank institutes have listed cellphones as one of the top technological dangers facing modern patients.

What can I do if a careless surgeon uses a cellphone during my surgery? Victims of this type of medical malpractice are not without options. They deserve financial and legal redress in the event that their surgical team essentially "drives distracted" during the operation. Negligent operating room staff who cause fatal surgical errors or worsened conditions because of mobile phone usage should be held accountable in civil court.

Source: The Bulletin, "Is your surgeon focused on you or his smartphone?," Markian Hawryluk, accessed July 02, 2015

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