Home >  News >  April, 2014

Another Reason Why You Should Ban Smart Phones From the OR

Patient dies during case in which the anesthesiologist admitted texting and e-mailing.

Published: April 3, 2014

A deadly distracted doctoring case out of Dallas hospital shines a light on the dangers of social media and surgery and might make you insist that all members of the OR team lock down their gadgets before entering surgery.

A Dallas County (Texas) jury will be asked to decide whether distracted doctoring played a part in the case of a 61-year-old woman who died 10 hours after undergoing an AV node ablation at Medical City Dallas, according to the Dallas Observer. The case is scheduled for trial in September.

Anesthesiologist Christopher Spillers, MD, and cardiologist Robert Rinkenberger, MD, both face malpractice charges. In deposition testimony, Dr. Rinkenberger points a finger at Dr. Spillers, who, he claims, was distracted during the case and didn't notice the patient's low blood-oxygen levels until 15 or 20 minutes after she turned blue. He suspects, he says, that Dr. Spillers simply made up the saturation numbers entered in the case record.

Asked whether Dr. Spillers was "reading a book or talking on the phone or surfing the Internet" while managing the patient's anesthesia, Dr. Rinkenberger says, "Yes. He was doing something either [with] his cell phone or pad or something."

In his deposition, Dr. Spillers initially denies that he surfs the Internet or posts on Facebook while managing anesthesia, claiming he checks the Internet only if he has questions about medication or the procedure. But when confronted with a post of a picture of another patient's vitals from his Facebook account that seem to contradict that claim, Dr. Spillers appears to acknowledge that he has in fact posted on Facebook while cases were proceeding:

Question: "Where it says 'just sitting here watching the tube on Christmas morning,' you are clearly referring to the fact that you have to be managing an anesthetic procedure on Christmas morning and you're watching the anesthetic monitor, fair?"

Dr. Spillers: "Uh-huh. Yes."

Calls for comment to Dr. Spillers and Dr. Rinkenberger by Outpatient Surgery Magazine were not returned.

Jim Burger


Also in the News...

Bill Would Lift Moratorium on Construction and Expansion of Physician-Owned Hospitals
Oregon Bill Would Let ASCs Offer Extended Care
10% of Alcohol-Based Preps Allowed to Dry for 3 Minutes Caught Fire
Emails Show Barry Cadden Tried to Cover His Tracks After His Lab Shipped Contaminated Steroids
Faulty Sensor Leads to Recall of Alaris Syringe Pump
Humble Surgical Hospital is Excoriated by Judge for Bilking Aetna Out of Millions
New Details in How Female Impostor Gained Access to 5 ORs

New to Outpatient Surgery Magazine?
Sign-up to continue reading this article.
Register Now
Have an account? Please log in:
Email Address:
  Remember my login on this computer

Other Articles That May Interest You

Patients Awarded $500 Million in DePuy Hip Implant Lawsuit

Bill Promotes Pricing Transparency and Protects Physicians From EHR Penalties

The Senate is expected to vote on the 21st Century Cures Act early next week.

Docs Who Get Sued Likely Will Be Sued Again