Going under the knife for surgery is among some of the most stressful medical experiences. Despite this, you might feel reassured by your surgeon’s great bedside manner and constant reassurance. All of that may change in the operating room, though. Even seemingly minor distractions can cause serious surgical errors.
Distractions are more common in the OR than you may realize. While you are under anesthesia, there is still a flurry of activity going on. Not all of the focus is on you and your well-being, either.
Types of distractions in the operating room
Ideally, you want your surgeon to solely focus on you. Distractions make it difficult if not impossible for surgeons to give patients their full attention, though. Here are just a few distractions your surgeon might face while in the operating room:
- Surgeons, nurses and other medical staff often play music in the operating room. This can be distracting, especially if it is too loud.
- Surgical staff scrubbing out after taking a phone call can be a distraction to those still attending to the patient.
- Surgical staff watching a video on someone’s phone sometimes fail to realize when a new scrub person needs their gown tied. This distraction also delays transitions and care.
This is far from an exhaustive list of OR distractions. Anything that takes a surgeon’s attention away from the patient and task at hand is a distraction. This means that surgeons and other surgical staff need to be hyper aware of potential distractions.
Hospitals need to take direct action to minimize distractions in the OR. Creating an environment in which everyone prioritizes proper communication is a great first step. This involves enforcing clear rules regarding phones, turning down loud music and practicing communication skills.
Minimizing the number of distractions during critical periods is also a key component of patient safety. For an anesthesiologist, this may mean cutting down distractions during processes like extubation and intubation. Surgeons should also be sure to minimize distractions when performing difficult or delicate aspects of a procedure.
Surviving a surgical error
While you might feel lucky to be alive, the reality of surviving a surgical error can be devastating. You might be dealing with added pain and suffering, emotional trauma and steep medical bills. Although this can feel like a hopeless situation, North Carolina victims of surgical errors have several options at their disposal, including pursuing compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit.