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Are surgeons tweeting or treating?

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP

It almost sounds too bizarre to be true, but with the rise of social media, tablets and smartphones, some medical professionals are heeding the siren call of their devices rather than paying attention to their patients. Yes, our country is obsessed with social media. In fact, 73 percent of the nation is active on these sites, with those aged 18 to 34 logging four hours every day. The older generation isn’t much better: 35- to 49-year-olds are logged on for three hours a day.

The big difference? When they post on Facebook, they aren’t risking anyone’s life. But it does for surgeons and the result can be catastrophic surgical errors. Take these rather frightening cases for example:

One anesthesiologist allowed a patient to turn blue for nearly 20 minutes from low oxygen levels while he used his iPad to text and look at websites. The woman he was attending died.

Another patient was paralyzed because of a neurosurgeon’s error in a surgery. It later came out that he had made at least 10 calls from his phone while he was operating on the patient.

These cases are not that rare. In fact, one survey discovered that 56 percent of the technicians responsible for operating heart surgery bypass machines had used their phones throughout procedures. Shockingly, only 52 percent felt that sending a text in the middle of surgery was unsafe.

Obviously, these issues are only going to lead to more errors, so victims must know their rights. A medical malpractice attorney may be able to help victims and their families recover compensation for medical expenses, funeral costs and pain and suffering.

Picture of Edward A. Ruffo, Partner

Edward A. Ruffo, Partner

Mr. Ruffo currently litigates cases at the state and federal levels in New York and New Jersey and has obtained numerous multi-million dollar medical damage awards for his clients. He has been annually ranked as a Top 10 and Top 100 Trial Lawyer by numerous professional societies including The National Trial Lawyers Association.

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