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It’s unfortunately all too common these days to see someone looking at their smartphone while driving – a dangerous activity that endangers the driver and others.

Lately, this growing problem has been showing up in hospitals and doctor’s offices. Some physicians, surgeons and other types of doctors have been distracted at work, putting their patients’ lives at risk. They may lose focus by checking email, using social media or engaging in some other type of activity that takes their eyes off the patient.

When these distracted doctors cause harm to patients, they open themselves up to the possibility of medical malpractice lawsuits. As experienced medical malpractice attorneys in Chicago, we know that a doctor who is distracted by something unrelated to the patient will have a difficult time defending against a negligence claim.

A woman in New York recently filed a lawsuit against her doctor alleging he was talking on a cellphone during her operation, according to a WABC-TV story. In Georgia, a plastic surgeon is facing multiple lawsuits over claims that she was dancing and singing while working on her patients, according to CNN. And according to FierceHealthcare, an anesthesiologist was sued after his patient died following an operation. Attorneys working on the family’s behalf discovered that the doctor was on Facebook and texting while the patient was in the operating room. Nurses also recalled seeing the doctor on his cellphone during the procedure.


FierceHealthcare reported on ways to guard against doctors who are distracted. Hospitals and medical practices should have policies in place regarding the use of digital devices. For example, it may be necessary for a doctor to go online while treating a patient to look up medical protocol. However, it would be inappropriate for the doctor to check a social media account or otherwise use the internet for personal reasons while interacting with a patient.

Healthcare organizations should provide mandatory staff training about the risks of being distracted at work. Doctors, nurses, and lab technicians – essentially anyone working at a hospital or practice – should understand when it’s appropriate to use a digital device.

There are common sense steps medical staff can take, such as keeping a phone on silent or in “airplane” mode while working.

An organization should encourage staff to report any activity that endangers patient safety. No one should be afraid of retaliation if they speak up about a distracted doctor.

If you or a loved one was harmed by a distracted doctor, contact us at Deratany & Kosner. We put our experience and resources to work for victims and families of medical malpractice. In the case of a doctor distracted by a cellphone, we typically would seek to introduce the phone records to support the negligence claim. We leave no stone unturned.

Contact us today or complete the online contact form on this page for a free and confidential consultation.

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