Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding partner
When medical providers are interrupted, or cause themselves to be distracted, patients suffer. According to a recent article by MedPage Today, “Busy clinicians in the emergency department reduce the time they spend on clinical tasks when interrupted, working faster and possibly cutting corners, a prospective observational study found. Overall, clinicians were interrupted 6.6 times per hour, and 11% of all tasks were interrupted, according to Johanna I. Westbrook, PhD, of the University of Sydney, in Australia, and colleagues.”
Interruptions are problematic for many reasons. Among other things, they distract providers from providing imminently needed medical care and result in lapses in memory, attention, and perception. Studies also show that interruptions “also contribute to cognitive load, increase stress, and can interfere with decision-making performance,” according to the MedPage Today report.
Hospitals are fraught with interruptions. “Our own research has demonstrated that interruptions to hospital nurses significantly increase the rate and severity of medication administration errors,” the researchers said (See Interruptions Risk Medication Errors by Nurses).
Some interruptions are expected, but they must be limited to those that are necessary. Until interruptions are controlled, preventable errors will lead to serious adverse health consequences. As it stands, there are approximately 98,000 deaths per year in this country as a result of preventable medical errors, according to the Institutes of Medicine. Such a statistic should never exist in America. With proper attention, lives can be saved and health can be maintained.
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About the author:
Mr. Zambri is a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. He has been acknowledged by Washingtonian magazine as a “Big Gun” and among the “top 1%” of all of the more than 80,000 lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area. The magazine also acknowledges him as “one of Washington’s best–most honest and effective lawyers” who specializes in medical malpractice matters, product liability claims, and serious automobile accident claims. Mr. Zambri has also been repeatedly named a “Super Lawyer” by Law and Politics magazine–a national publication that honors the top lawyers in America.
Mr. Zambri is regularly asked to present seminars to lawyers and doctors, as well as both medical and law students concerning medication errors, medical malpractice litigation, and safety improvements.