A case recently filed in Texas is shedding light on a specific safety hazard affecting patients in Ohio and across the nation. Most Americans are familiar by now with the issue of distracted driving. Motorists who fail to keep their hands on the steering wheel, their eyes on the road and their minds on the task of safely operating their vehicles risk harming themselves and others around them. Similarly, when physicians take their focus off the task of delivering a quality standard of care, they risk harming any patient affected by their distracted state.
The Texas case alleges a kind of “distracted doctoring” that may have both led to surgical errors and to the death of an innocent patient. According to the claim, a 61-year-old woman checked in for routine heart surgery in order to correct her irregular heartbeat. Depositions indicate that the anesthesiologist assigned to the woman’s surgery failed to notice that her blood-oxygen levels had fallen to dangerously low levels until roughly 15 or 20 minutes after the woman had turned blue.