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Phone use among nurses may increase rate of errors

Anyone who works in the medical field in New Jersey knows how important it is to stay focused on the job. A report published in JAMA Pediatrics shows that errors can become more frequent among nurses who are distracted by their phones. For their study, researchers analyzed the behavior of 257 nurses in pediatric intensive care units and how this affected 3,308 patients.

Around half of these nurses received a call on their phones 10 minutes before administering medication to a patient. The rate of medication errors was 3.7% for these nurses whereas those who did not receive a call had an error rate of 3.1%. The error rate did not change when nurses received a text message, though previous research has shown that notifications from social media do change it.

If nurses treat multiple patients, and if at least one of those patients require mechanical ventilation and arterial catheters, the error rate goes up considerably. The same occurs when nurses work the night shift or work with less than six months of experience in PICUs.

Though researchers could not directly link the incoming calls with the increase in errors, the correlation is striking. To avoid errors, nurses should always double-check that they have the right patient and proper dosage. Furthermore, it’s best to keep phones off and out of reach.

Medication mistakes are often the result of medical professional negligence. Such instances can open up the way for malpractice claims. While these claims end in some of the highest settlements possible in personal injury law, plaintiffs usually face great opposition. Someone who intends to file a claim may want a lawyer to represent them at the negotiation table or in the courtroom. Third-party investigators may come in to strengthen the case.