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Distracted doctors are as dangerous as distracted drivers

Smartphones are everywhere. If you go to the doctor's office, there's a very good chance your doctor has one in his or her pocket while you're at the appointment. If not, maybe it's in the office somewhere. Regardless, that phone is powered on and close at hand.

Experts note that there are some potential upsides here. Phones make communication between medical professionals faster and easier than ever. Internet access means doctors can look up treatment options, check medical records and do important research in seconds. They may also use their phones to stay up to date on all of the latest breaking news in the field.

However, the risks far outweigh the benefits, at times. When they do, they can become deadly.

Distracted driving

One simple way to think about medical malpractice and mistakes that doctors make is to consider distracted driving. If someone decides to text and drive, the odds of an accident leap tremendously. Some studies have found that a crash is 23 times more likely. That's a staggering number. These accidents lead to injuries and death year after year.

But doctors need to be just as focused as drivers, if not more so. Distraction for them can have the same dire consequences.

"It struck me how similar distracted driving is to distracted doctoring," one doctor said in an interview with the American Medical Association. "Both have become daily tasks that you think you can safely perform while doing a second activity."

That complacency starts to cause problems. A doctor who has worked in the field for 20 years may assume they can check their phone while still offering high-end care. They may even get lucky a few times, backing up that thought process. But it will eventually catch up with them, just as it does with distracted drivers.

Medical mistakes

A driver who gets distracted may drive into the wrong lane or cut someone off without seeing them, but what mistakes do doctors make? It depends on the case. A surgeon could accidentally begin operating on the wrong body part. A nurse could forget to finish filling out paperwork. A staff member could take medication to the wrong room.

Your brain can only handle so much information at one time. The more you overload it with cellphone-related information, the less brain power you give to whatever important task you are supposed to be doing. This can lead to mistakes, oversights and all sorts of avoidable errors.

Your options

Did a doctor cause you a serious injury because they got distracted or just because they made an error you feel they never should have made? If so, make sure you are well aware of all of your legal rights in Ohio.

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