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Multitasking can quickly lead to medical mistakes

Doctors are being asked to multitask far more than they ever have been before, in large part because of the rise of technology in the workplace. Doctors can now use cell phones, computers, tablets, and many other devices to work with records and other paperwork.

The goal of this technology is to make things more efficient and to allow doctors to get more done. It can do this, and the use of technology is both inevitable and often positive.

However, there are risks. These devices mean that doctors are often trying to work on multiple cases at once, and even routine tasks can lead to serious mistakes.

For example, one doctor was waiting for a phone call and going over the notes for all of his patients at the same time. That doctor suddenly realized that Patient 1 needed to be given a specific medication, and he decided to put in the order using the computer system.

Unfortunately, since he was multitasking, he put the order in the wrong file. It went to Patient 2. Since the system is so efficient, the staff was instantly alerted without talking to the doctor in person, and they gave Patient 2 the wrong medication.

Both patients wound up getting through the ordeal without serious issues, but that's based more on luck than anything else. There are plenty of cases where each one could have been seriously hurt or even killed -- if Patient 2 was allergic to the medication, for instance, or if Patient 1 needed it immediately.

Have you been harmed by a medical mistake, perhaps one that only happened because a doctor was trying to do too many tasks at once? If so, be sure you understand your potential rights to financial compensation.

Source: Stanford Health Care, "Medical Staff: MedStaff Update," Steve Chinn, accessed Aug. 24, 2017

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