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Distracted Doctoring: A Conversation with Dr. Papadakos

To read ahead to a blog from Dr. Peter J. Papadakos, “Educating Health Care Workers in the Balance of Technology and Humanism,” click here.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog response to a New York Times article on doctors distracted from their jobs by mobile technology. In the blog, I pointed out that although studies are now documenting the potential dangers of distracting mobile technology, in developing countries a mobile phone may be some health workers’ only connection to qualified colleagues for consultations and better information.

The blog caught the attention of Dr. Peter J. Papadakos, who gave me a call.

Dr. Papadakos is an anesthesiologist and director of critical care at the University of Rochester Medical Center in upstate New York, who had been quoted in the New York Times as saying, “‘My gut feeling is lives are in danger,’” referring to distracted doctoring. He is also quite experienced in trauma care and talked about the disturbing number of patients he had seen with severe injuries from car accidents caused by cellphones.

Dr. Papadakos wanted to know more about IntraHealth’s work with mobile technology and health workers, including how in India we are using mobile phones to support community health workers to offer basic care and information.

He was also wanted to share more about his groundbreaking work at the University of Rochester to develop educational programs that teach young health professionals how to interact with technology. His commitment is to bringing humanism and technology to what he referred to as one of the most basically human professions: the profession of caregiving, the health profession.

Last week, journalist Matt Richtel published yet another article on the topic of distracted doctoring, “Multitasking Doctor Imperils Patient, Case Study Says,” which refers to a case in which a doctor is entering a medical order using her phone and gets distracted by a text from a friend and the unfortunate outcome of this.

I thought back to my conversation with Dr. Papadakos and one of the tenets of his philosophy about technology in the clinic: mobile devices used to care for patients should not be ones that double for personal communications, which if adhered to, could have prevented the incident.

I wrote to Dr. Papadakos asking his thoughts on this latest article and to see if he would be willing to share more with our readers about his thoughts on how health workers can embrace the benefits of technology but use these new tools in way that still puts safety and patients first.

Please read more from Dr. Papadakos in “Educating Health Care Workers in the Balance of Technology and Humanism