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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Cell Phones In The Operating Room?

(For politics, please scroll down)

Illustration by Michael Hirshon
Sometimes one opens the newspaper and is gobsmacked by a story that is not political, a story that makes one say: "What is this madness? And whatever happened to common sense?"

The story below the fold is one such story, and it illustrates that there really may be an addiction to modern technology.

From Kaiser Health News (dated July 14, 2015):

Next time you’re on the operating table and you have one last look around as the anesthesiologist approaches, don’t be too sure that that person in scrubs looking at a smartphone is pulling up vital health data. He or she might be texting a friend, or ordering a new carpet.

Cellphone use is not generally restricted in the operating room, but some experts say the time for rules has come. In interviews, many described co-workers’ texting friends and relatives from the surgical suite. Some spoke of colleagues who hide a phone in a drawer and check it when they think no one is watching.

“Sometimes it’s just stuff like shopping online or checking Facebook,” said Dwight Burney, an orthopedic surgeon from Albuquerque. “The problem is that it does lead to distraction.” This can result in medical errors or lax safety procedures, such as forgetting to check a patient’s identity, he said.

In one 2011 incident, a Texas anesthesiologist was accused of sending text messages and e-mails while monitoring a patient. Her oxygen levels dropped, which the anesthesiologist allegedly didn’t notice for close to 20 minutes, and she died in surgery. The woman’s family sued the anesthesiologist. The case was settled before going to trial.


But some doctors, nurses and other O.R. personnel point out that smartphones can provide assistance during care, letting staffers view patient information and lab results on the fly or communicate with colleagues in other parts of the hospital during a surgery.

But it’s hard to know if medical personnel are instead scanning Amazon or Facebook, “unless you’re videotaping or monitoring all persons at any time of the day,” Devireddy said.


It’s the mix of pros and cons that complicates efforts to develop clear-cut guidelines....
Read the rest HERE.

Technology is a double-edged sword. For example, my ophthalmic surgeon takes iPhone photos of the subluxed IOL in my left eye so that he can see the position of the IOL if he has to operate so as to lasso that wayward IOL.  Surely he would want access to an image of the exact position of my IOL in the operating room.  Such is the wonderful and proper use of today's amazing technology.

For many others, however, technology addiction may be a norm exercised with little discretion.  Lack of discretion = danger.


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  2. ________ An Ironic Truth ________

    Cawing, yapping, droning everywhere,
    Enrapt with Unreality they're blind.
    Looking blankly into space they grind
    Loose lips ludicrously in mid air.

    Packets clasped to ears their elbows bend,
    Holding haplessly to each connection ––
    Oblivious to tangible affection.
    Nothing could this misdirection end,
    Except the advent of a cataclysm ––

    Annihilating new ways warped and curled ––
    Built denying truths the catechism
    Used to keep our wayward notions furled ––
    Stifling acts and impulses towards schism ––
    Enabling more delight in Nature's world.

    ~ FreeThinke

  3. It could be worse.

    There was a surgeon at Mount Auburn Hospital who just left the patient on the table while he walked to n ATM.

    1. In your worldview, Canardo, things are ALWAYS getting worse, and you are more than happy to expedite the degenerative process as much as you can, because it greatly aids your TYRANNIST AGENDA wherein Leftists achieve ABSOLUTE POWER –– i.e. Command and Control of every move we make and every breath we take.

      Well, Poo-Poo Pa-Doo to You!

  4. Digital technology is driving many changes. But the same, should never be a source of distraction when involved in patient care.

    A couple years ago I was about to unhook an elderly pt. in the PACU (post anesthesia care unit) when I noticed she was "tomb stoning" - having an active myocardial event. I called the hospitalist and he came immediately and looked at the pre-event and current event EKG strips I was running. He then took his cell phone and sent images to the cardiologist. The diagnosis was confirmed, and within ten minutes I was taking my patient to CCU instead of a med-surg floor. Minutes count, for many sentinel health events.

    Twenty years ago, we would have called the cardiologist and he (or she) would have ordered lab, headed into the hospital. The ability to more quickly diagnose and react, is one of the remarkable aspects of cell phone usage. There are patients now who do things like take images of their rash and its progression to show a doctor. We become carriers of our medical condition - on our cell phone.

    In our hospital, anesthesiologists have cell phones available in the OR. But it is to field calls from other anesthesiologists, or surgeons, regarding "start times" for surgeries, etc. I do not personally see them using their phones for things which are not work related.


    1. Tammy,
      What you have described are proper uses of today's technology.

      Unfortunately, many people, particularly those who have been born into the Digital age and have iPads at age two, do not see technology as a valuable tool but rather as an end unto itself.

      Like all "miracle" tools, those tools must be correctly harnessed and applied.


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