Digital Distractions in Healthcare
Gallagher Healthcare :: Industry InsightsBy Gallagher Healthcare | 10/16/2018
Interruptions and distractions in healthcare are a reality for most physicians, nurses, surgeons and other medical professionals. The nature of the field means emergencies can occur at any time, drawing attention away from current tasks. Also, doctors can be distracted by administrative duties, requests from other professionals and the many demands of a busy practice.
Unfortunately, mobile devices can make the situation worse.
Today, mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones are ubiquitous in hospitals, clinics and other healthcare settings, where they have an essential role to play. Mobile devices help physicians look up medical information, send medical files, receive alerts, communicate effectively and learn more. However, they can also pose a significant distraction in a workplace, where there are already many interruptions.
Distractions and Their Impact on Patient Safety
Distractions from mobile devices and other sources can affect medical outcomes and patient safety. According to research conducted in 2010, each interruption in a medical setting increases the risk of clinical error by 13 percent, and nurses interrupted three times saw drug administration errors increased by 10 percent.
Distractions in the medical office are potentially deadly because of the of the critical health-related decisions that require full focus. When mobile devices ring, they can work with other distractions to remove attention from patient care and at-hand tasks. Fortunately, there are steps physicians, healthcare providers and organizations can take to reduce the risk:
- Reduce the Amount of Time With Mobile Devices: This may mean limiting cell phones to specific areas of a practice and banning them in surgery areas or other parts of a location where more concentration is necessary. Individual physicians can reduce their reliance by turning off mobile devices when they are speaking to patients and having set times for checking mobile devices.
- Establish Smart Mobile Device Procedures and Policies: Written policies at a practice, clinic or hospital can help keep everyone using mobile devices safely.
- Designate Different Mobile Devices for Professional Use: Separate mobile devices for professional use can reduce the number of personal distractions coming in and keeps physicians and other staff members focused on work.
- Block Some Sites: Blocking social media or other sites that are not important for professional use during the day allows mobile devices to function only for patient care or emergencies. By reducing the use of some sites, it is also possible to eliminate distractions from social or news updates.
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