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Link between interruptions and errors by skilled workers

Mar 30, 2017 | Hospital Negligence

Workers who are experienced at their jobs are highly valued. However, according to a study by psychology researchers from Michigan State University, highly trained workers in New York and elsewhere who work in certain fields can be at risk for making errors when they are interrupted.

Workers with more experience tend to perform procedural tasks at a faster rate than their less-experienced counterparts. Their actions are more closely spaced, and when they are interrupted, they can become confused when they try to recall where they stopped in their task.

For example, a nurse who is interrupted in the middle of preparing a dose of medicine will have to remember if he or she gave the patient the medicine. A nurse with more experience will recall with less accuracy than a nurse with less experience because the more experienced nurse generally performs the steps of preparing and administering medicine quicker.

Because the nurse may have a higher chance of making an error after an interruption does not mean that he or she should not administer the medicine. Instead, their high skill levels should be recognized as a risk factor for higher rates of errors after interruptions. Workers who are interrupted while in the middle of performing critical procedures, such as those in intensive care units and emergency rooms, may find the training and equipment designs that aid in helping them remember their place in their task can be beneficial.

Individuals who are injured due to medical errors may have legal recourse. A medical malpractice attorney may review a client’s case and may seek financial compensation for substandard hospital care that resulted in a worsened medical condition. Causes could include tainted instruments, exposure to hazards and emergency room errors.