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Distractions may lead to devastating doctor errors

Many people who live in the greater Chicago area have the opportunity to choose their own doctors and medical facilities. While insurance restrictions sometimes direct a patient toward a particular health system, in some cases individuals can choose the health professionals that they want rather than the ones assigned to them. When choosing a primary care doctor or one who provides a specialty, patients take many factors into consideration.

Individuals may consider where the doctor studied and how much experience they have in the relevant area of medicine. The patients may look at recommendations and consider how competent they feel the doctors' staffs are. Some individuals may even prefer to choose a male doctor over a female doctor or an older doctor over a younger doctor, depending upon the characteristics and preferences of the patient.

However, one study out of Oregon State University at Cascades suggests that one population of doctors may not be as prepared in its field as others in its same specialty. Particularly, the study found that young surgeons were likely to make major surgical errors during practice gall bladder procedures when they were subjected to distractions. The distractions included sounds in the room like background conversations and general disorder, and around 44% of the young surgeons made major errors under those conditions.

The study indicated that the same results may not apply to older, more seasoned surgeons with experience behind their practices. However, a doctor mistake can happen given any medical scenario and no doctor, regardless of his or her background, is immune from legitimate claims of medical malpractice. Though this study yields interesting data, patients may still choose the doctors that they want. Those doctors, however, must meet the standards expected of them by the medical field.

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