Are Nurses and other Medical Staff Distracted by Social Media?


When one is being seen by a doctor or nurse in the Houston area, it can
be unsettling, though understandable, if the professional appears distracted.
After all, those in Houston’s bustling medical field see countless
patients per day, and have innumerable tasks they must complete in a short
amount of time. While patients may accept that they’ll have to wait
a bit to get the full attention of a doctor or nurse, most do expect that
once the provider is there, he or she will be fully present.

With the rise and increasing accessibility of social media, though, that
full presence may not always happen. It appears as if doctors, nurses
and technicians may be increasingly distracted on the job, not as a result
of competing job demands, but by social media. Thanks to this now-ubiquitous
technology, Texans may be vulnerable to becoming victims of doctor or
nursing negligence.

At a 2011 American Academy of Anesthesiologists meeting, it was noted a
survey showed that residents and nurse anesthetists faced distraction
from a non-patient care cause in more than half of cases. Just as troubling,
another survey of techs who control surgical bypass machines showed that
more than half of respondents used their cellular phones during patient

Several incidents also point to the dangers of distraction. In Texas, a
malpractice case lingers over a fatal case wherein an anesthesiologist
was using his iPad during an important procedure. He was supposed to have
been closely watching the patient’s vital signs, but was apparently
instead watching his computer. In another incident, the same anesthesiologist
had posted disparaging things about patients on Facebook.

Advances in technology should decrease the chances of doctor mistakes or
nursing errors, not increase them. Simple distractions can become life-threatening
mistakes, such as failure to monitor patients in a timely and proper manner.
Any patient or family member who believes they were harmed by a distracted
medical professional can seek to hold the negligent party accountable
by first discussing their case with a local malpractice attorney.

Source: Pacific Standard, “Treat, don’t tweet: The dangerous rise of social media in the operating room,” Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza, April 16, 2014