Is Your Emergency Room Doctor Distracted?

A new study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine finds that there is a correlation between how often a doctor is interrupted and the number of mistakes a doctor makes.  The study found that in a typical two hour period in an academic emergency room, a doctor can interact with as many as 132 people and treat 16 patients.  The situation is not much better in community hospitals where a doctor may interact with as many as 101 people and treat up to 12 patients in a two hour period.

If you are in the emergency room as a patient, or with a patient, be aware of how often your doctor is called away or distracted during an exam or consultation.  Try to remember what the doctor was doing in order to prevent emergency room mistakes and encourage the doctor to finish what he or she was doing before moving on.  If you have concerns about the level of distraction from your care, it is important to notify a supervisor and voice your concern.