HCPLive Network

Even Brief Interruptions Dramatically Increase Potential for Medical Errors

 
WEDNESDAY, Jan. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Even momentary interruptions of two to four seconds can significantly affect a person's ability to accurately complete a task requiring considerable thought, according to research published online Jan. 7 in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

Erik M. Altmann, Ph.D., of the Michigan State University in East Lansing, and colleagues studied the effect of short interruptions on the ability of 300 undergraduate students to perform a computer-based sequential task that combined a routine sequencing component with relatively complex individual steps.

The researchers found that long interruptions, averaging about 4.4 seconds, tripled the rate of sequence errors, while interruptions averaging 2.8 seconds doubled the error rate. Interruptions did not have an effect on non-sequence error rates, however, suggesting that interruptions can disrupt a person's ability to maintain their place without disrupting the individual steps themselves.

In conclusion, our core empirical finding is that, when someone is momentarily interrupted or distracted and then returns to their task, they may do so without obvious hesitation, but with an increased chance of resuming at a different point in their train of thought than they might have otherwise," the authors write. "This contextual jitter -- being taken out of the moment and landed back in a slightly different place -- may be why even momentary interruptions can seem jarring when they occur during a cognitively engaging activity."
 

Abstract
Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)


Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.
 

Further Reading
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) have become significant and costly problems—so significant, in fact, that many patients have a basic knowledge of MRSA just from news reports. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer a large selection of free tools to educate the public about MRSA and VRE.
Patients’ body weight (BW) is the accepted way to calculate the starting dose of levothyroxine (LT4) after total thyroidectomy. However, Italian researchers sought to find a new way to improve the accuracy of the LT4 starting dose following total thyroidectomy by identifying other major predictive factors of LT4 requirement.
Xi E. Zheng, MD, PhD, shares her views on young-onset colorectal cancer at 2014 ACG Annual Scientific Meeting in Philadelphia, PA.
In what could be New York City’s first case of Ebola, a doctor identified by the NY Post as Craig Spencer, 33, MD an emergency medicine physician at New York Hospital/Columbia-Presbyterian was rushed to a special Ebola unit at city-run Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan. Spencer returned 10 days ago from a stint as a volunteer with Doctors without Borders, caring for Ebola victims in Guinea, one of three West African nations with major outbreaks.
Patients diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy may be able to get a sense of how their condition has progressed without having to leave the comfort of their own home.
Monitoring devices among intensive care patients set off 2.5 million alarms in one month at a U.S. hospital, a new study of "alarm fatigue" reveals. The research was published online Oct. 22 in PLOS ONE.
While in-office visits may still be best, virtual analysis may be a valuable option in atopic dermatitis care, according to a new study published online Oct. 22 in JAMA Dermatology.
More Reading