Social media is a dangerous thing in an operating room

As a patient, you want your doctor—and the support staff—to pay very close attention to everything they’re doing while you’re in surgery. This can limit mistakes and help you get through without any complications. This is more than a desire on your part; it’s an expected level of care.

Unfortunately, as some patients are finding out, you don’t always get it. One of the biggest reasons for this, in the modern era, is the popularity of social media.

Take a case where a patient died on the operating table during what was deemed a low-risk cardiac surgery. The patient was 61 years old at the time. Unfortunately, her oxygen levels plummeted during the procedure and she passed away.

The hospital did have steps in place to prevent this. The anesthesiologist who was assigned to the surgery was supposed to keep an eye on the person’s vital signs, along with giving out anesthesia. So, what was the problem?

The anesthesiologist was using his iPad. He read books, surfed the web and sent text messages. He said he tried to check the vitals every five minutes—even though the brain can start dying when oxygen is cut off for only a couple minutes—but it appears he was so distracted that he didn’t even do that. The patient was without proper oxygen and turned blue, but, even after that happened, he didn’t notice for around 15 to 20 minutes.

Clearly, social media—and the use of mobile technology—can be a huge problem in hospitals. Those who have lost loved ones or been injured due to doctors’ mistakes can often seek significant compensation.

Source: PS Mag, “Treat, Don’t Tweet: The Dangerous Rise of Social Media in the Operating Room,” Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza, accessed Jan. 07, 2016

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