Today in Research: Doctors' Texting Problem; Smoking

Discovered: Viking treasure, NASA's snow angel, a Pyramid of the Sun offering, distracted doctors, and the latest sobering anti-smoking statistic.

  • Doctors have a texting problem -- during surgery. It seems unbelievable to think medical technicians would be talking on cell phones or texting during heart surgery in any substantial number, but there is, sadly, a research link. In today's paper, The New York Times found more than just anecdotal evidence of a "distracted doctor" trend. "A peer-reviewed survey of 439 medical technicians ... found that 55 percent of technicians who monitor bypass machines acknowledged to researchers that they had talked on cellphones during heart surgery. Half said they had texted while in surgery." Yes, that was read correctly. Perhaps more surprising was that less than a majority thought it was a big deal: "About 40 percent said they believed talking on the phone during surgery to be 'always an unsafe practice.'" [The New York Times]
  • The sobering anti-smoking statistic of the day. Reuters reports on an Australian study that linked fathers who smoke to a 15 percent higher chance of their kids developing leukemia. Oddly, and counter-intuitively, "the mothers' smoking behavior had no impact on the kids' risk of developing the cancer." Which is head-scratching considering the huge warning labels on cigarette packs about smoking during pregnancy. The survey was conducted with families that had children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a rare disease, and came to the conclusion that smoking was "just one of the possible contributing factors." [Reuters]

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