Physician and Nurse Use of PDAs and Other Electronics May Result in Medical Mistakes

Increasingly, smartphones have replaced doctors’ pagers and tablet computers are used professionally in healthcare facilities. The AMA reports that 80% of doctors carry smartphones and one-third use tablet devices, but while this new technology can benefit care, they also create personal distractions that may lead to medical mistakes.


A report published in Archives of Internal Medicine found nurses were 12% more likely to commit an error when they were interrupted by electronic devices when handling medications. The AMA notes that of a surveyed group of perfusionists, during a surgical procedure, “21% of smartphone users checked their email, 15% used the Internet, 3% posted to social networking sites,” and a majority used their cellphones.See the report.


A case study published in the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Morbidity and Mortality Rounds on the Web found that distractions can be best reduced by isolating personal and professional communications on devices and preventing healthcare professionals from using personal devices during patient care, among other error prevention methods. See the study.


Read the AMA article.