Monday, March 26, 2012

Smart Phones, Pagers, and Distractions

I love the inflammatory, attention getting title of this NPR piece:

"Hospitals Warn Smartphones Can Distract Doctors."

The most distracting part of my job, by far, is my pager.  I did a lumbar puncture yesterday, and I turned off my phone.  My pager, however, rang 3 or 4 times during the procedure.  Good thing I have perfected the use of my elbow to scroll through pages.

click here to listen
Our art as physicians is to manage distractions and being a resident is learning to be someone who develops tools and skills to filter distractions.

Our patients attempt to distract us with details and non sequiturs, but we filter our histories and gather the pertinent details.  We anticipate the needs of our consults before we call them, in order to limit their questions.  We make sure to order our morphine as MR1, so as to be asked one less question by nursing.  We use decision algorithms and we run our primary and secondary surveys the same way each time to streamline our decision making.

Our phones can be distracting, but we can also learn to filter them as we do the countless other distractions we face in the hospital.  And moreover, if used properly, phones can be one more useful tool to keep us on track.

- Teach, MD

- thank you to Abigail Ballou for leading me to this NPR piece

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