inside-of-mobile-operating-room1Facebook in the Operating Room?  Apparently so.

Two Texas doctors face trial in September after being accused of paying more attention to their social media than their patient in the Operating Room, who died shortly after surgery.

Dr. Christopher Spillers

Dr. Christopher Spillers

Anesthesiologist Dr. Christopher Spillers and cardiologist Dr. Robert Rinkenberger have been charged with malpractice after the 61-year-old female patient died 10 hours after undergoing an AV node ablation at Medical City Dallas Hospital.

According to the Dallas Observer blog:

Dr. Rinkenberger, in deposition testimony, blames Dr. Spillers, who he said was distracted and did not see the patient’s low blood-oxygen levels until 15 or 20 minutes after she turned blue.

Dr. Rinkenberger accused Dr. Spillers of “doing something either (with) his cell phone or pad or something” while managing the patient’s anesthesia.

Dr. Spillers testified that he only checked the Internet during surgeries if he had questions about a procedure or medication. But after being confronted by a photo from his Facebook page of a photo of another patient’s vital signs during surgery, he seems to admit that he has in fact posted on cases during surgery.

Dr. Robert Rinkenberger

Dr. Robert Rinkenberger

From the deposition:

Question: “Where it says ‘just sitting here watching the tube on Christmas morning,’ you are clearly referring to the fact that you have to be managing an anesthetic procedure on Christmas morning and you’re watching the anesthetic monitor, fair?”

Dr. Spillers: “Uh-huh. Yes.”

For more excerpts from the depositions, go to the Observer link.

A University of Rochester Medical Center anesthesiologist, talking about distracted doctoring in general in a recent presentation covered by Outpatient Surgery magazine, sees distractions everywhere in health care.

“Everybody’s addicted to their gizmos,” Dr. Peter Papadakos said. When you come onto the surgical wing, he said, you pass the unit secretary “who is texting on her smartphone,” then the nurse, “who is surfing the Web,” then the resident, “who is gaming on his tablet.”

He’s more concerned about the distractions in the Operating Room.

“Everything we learn about time outs and other precautions is meaningless if we don’t focus our staff,” he said. “How many people realize that their staffs aren’t paying attention during time outs, because they’re busy checking Facebook and e-mails?”

He suggests that medical facilities need to create and enforce a strict communications policy, including areas where personal electronic devices are not allowed.

“The digital nightmare is not farcical,” he said. “It’s happening at your institution.”

I absolutely agree communications policies must be implemented.  Distracted drivers are one thing, but surgeons and anesthesiologists posting to Facebook from the Operating Room?  Intolerable.

Thank you for reading,

Christina Sonsire,