It has been 12 years since I published a commentary titled “Electronic Distraction an Unmeasured Variable in Modern Medicine” in Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News’ sister publication Anesthesiology News (November 2011). This piece was at the core of a front-page story that appeared in The New York Times and ignited a firestorm of media coverage. Professionals in all fields of medicine addressed this issue at both national and international conferences; many articles were written; studies and research were done; and education was provided in almost every field of healthcare. This distraction was also addressed by the legal profession, with it becoming a core issue in litigation of malpractice. Standards and guidelines were developed by hospitals and medical societies to address this “problem” and attempt to bring the focus back to the care of patients, as well as reinforce professionalism and humanism in our professions.
However, as I look around, I see the problem is only getting worse and we are losing ground at a rapid pace. Our culture and societal norms have changed, and our world is now populated by individuals whose entire life revolves around tech and social media. Just look around your place of work, home and community. It is not uncommon to see people walking the halls and streets holding these devices and texting, and interacting with social media for the majority of their waking hours.