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Distracted Doctors – An Unsettling Trend in Medical Care

Published: Oct 26, 2015 in Medical Malpractice

Distracted doctoring is a type of medical malpractice, meaning that it is one of the ways a doctor or other healthcare professional can injure a patient through negligence. If you are suffering because of negligence on the part of a doctor or other hospital staff member, contact an experienced medical malpractice lawyer to discuss your rights and explore the possibility of obtaining compensation for your losses.

You know that distracted driving kills thousands of Americans every year. Because of this, you are urged to put your phone away when you are driving your car. But have you ever considered other instances where smartphone distraction can cost an individual his or her life?

When a doctor is distracted by his or her phone during surgery or even when treating a patient, the doctor can make mistakes that result in serious injuries to the patient. If you have recently undergone medical treatment and are now suffering from a worsened condition or a new injury, you could be a victim of distracted doctoring.

What is Distracted Doctoring?

The term “distracted doctoring” refers to the trend of doctors being distracted by their smartphones and tablets when they are on duty. Today, doctors and other healthcare professionals rely on tablets and online databases to keep track of patient records and diagnose ailments effectively.

This technology allows health care professionals to pull up patients’ records and collaborate with others to diagnose a condition and look for patterns. The downside to this technology is the ease of using it to access non-work-related social media websites such as Facebook.

In a 55 percent of individuals tasked with monitoring bypass machines admitted to talking on their cellphones during heart surgery.

Approximately half of the technicians surveyed admitted to text messaging during surgery.

In a recent medical malpractice case dealing with distracted doctoring, an anesthesiologist faced charges for the death of a patient after he allegedly missed her dangerously low oxygen levels during surgery because he was distracted by his iPad, according to a 2015 article in The Atlantic magazine.

The article noted that hospitals are struggling to develop policies about doctors using cell phones in the operating room.

Dangers of Distracted Doctors

We trust doctors with our lives. Despite their extensive specialized training, doctors are human and like all other humans can easily become distracted by social media and other notifications coming through their smartphones.

The ECRI Institute, a non-profit patient safety advocacy group, included distraction by cell phone among the top risks that technology could pose to patient safety. When a doctor does not give a patient 100 percent of his or her attention, the patient can suffer. Among the ways that a distracted doctor may injure a patient:

  • Administering too much or too little medication;
  • Prescribed the wrong type of medication;
  • Overlooking a key part of the patient’s ailment;
  • Misusing equipment on a patient;
  • Mixing up patients’ records, providing individuals with treatment meant for others;
  • Leaving a piece of surgical equipment inside a patient’s body;
  • Missing a patient’s change in vital signs, or reaction to a medication.

If you have suffered from a complication after surgery, you could be a victim of distracted doctoring.

Seek medical attention from another doctor as soon as you can to have the damage assessed and receive the right type of treatment for your injury or illness. Then, contact an attorney to review the specifics of your injury.

Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim

Through a medical malpractice claim, you can seek compensation for your economic losses that resulted from a doctor’s negligence.

The losses may include your physical symptoms, your mental anguish resulting from the malpractice, your lost wages, and the cost of additional medical care to correct the harm.

If you lost a loved one as a result of medical negligence, you can pursue a wrongful death claim to recover compensation for your loved one’s medical bills, funeral expenses, loss of future income and your loss of his or her companionship.

To prove that you were a victim of medical malpractice, you need to provide evidence that the doctor failed to follow the recognized standard of care and doctor’s negligence caused your injury or worsened illness. The evidence needed depends on the type of negligence you suffered.

If you are seeking compensation because surgical tools were left inside your body, an x-ray showing these tools can be used to prove your claim. If you are alleging that your doctor was distracted by his or her smartphone during surgery, your attorney can obtain a record of his or her data usage to use to support your medical malpractice claim. Testimony from medical experts about your injury and its cause can also be used to support your claim.

In Alabama, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is two years from the date that the malpractice occurred. This means that once two years pass from the date of the doctor’s error, you are no longer entitled to seek monetary compensation through a medical malpractice claim. The only exception to this rule is for cases where the damage stemming from a doctor’s negligence is not immediately obvious. If you do not realize your injury exists until after the two-year time limit has passed, and the injury is one that an individual would not reasonably have been able to discover, the statute of limitations becomes six months from the date of the discovery.

Alabama Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been injured in any way because of a doctor or another healthcare provider’s negligence in Alabama, you may have the right to seek monetary compensation for your damages through a medical malpractice claim. We offer a case evaluation free of charge and are ready to help you obtain full compensation for your losses. With offices in Birmingham, Mobile, Huntsville, and Montgomery, our attorneys will quickly travel to investigate your case.

Contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as you can after your injury to discuss this possibility. Call our team at Belt & Bruner, P.C. today at (205) 933-1500 to schedule your free legal consultation with us.

We are here to advocate for you through every step of the medical malpractice claim process.