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Study links phone distractions to higher rate of medical errors

| Feb 10, 2020 | Uncategorized

Most people in Illinois receive calls on their mobiles phones while they are at work, but the consequences of these distractions are more serious for health care workers. A recently published research study tracked medication errors among pediatric nurses while keeping track of whether they received phone calls prior to making a mistake.

The researchers analyzed data collected from 257 nurses as they cared for 3,308 patients. Approximately half of the nurses were recorded as receiving calls 10 minutes prior to giving medications to patients. The segment of nurses distracted by calls produced a mistake rate of 3.7%. Among nurses who did not take any calls, their error rate was lower at 3.1%. Incoming text messages did not appear to influence the error rate. Based on this evidence, the researchers suggested that health care workers keep their phones silent while taking care of patients.

Other factors that affected error rates included the shift that nurses were working, their level of experience, the complexity of care duties and the facility’s nurse-to-patient ratios. Nurses with less than six months of pediatric intensive care experience who worked the night shift made the most mistakes.

A severe medical error might cause brain damage or even death. Even less serious mistakes could prolong a person’s illness, inflict additional medical expenses and leave lasting physical damage. A person pursuing financial damages after a medical mistake may gain insights about how to proceed by speaking with an attorney. A medical malpractice case must meet high legal standards to prove negligence, and an attorney might gather independent medical testimony to build a strong case. Legal advice may also help a person evaluate a settlement offer or make the decision to take the case to court.

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