Multitasking Can Have Deadly Consequences in the Medical Field
Multi-tasking — everyone is guilty of it at one point or another in their life. Maybe you think you’re good at it, and it helps you accomplish more in the same amount of time, or perhaps you don’t have a choice, and it’s the only way to handle a daily workload. For medical professionals, multi-tasking can be a dangerous practice, especially when working with multiple patients. If you find yourself multitasking too often, read some of the reasons below to help you break the habit and provide the level of quality care your patients deserve.
You’re More Prone to Errors
The more you multitask, the more mistakes you can make. In the medical profession, mistakes can be potentially hazardous. Switching rapidly between tasks exposes you to mental blocks. These mental blocks can affect your judgment, especially when moving from case to case. The myth is that you are switching between tasks rapidly when in reality you’re forcing your brain to split focus between two or more tasks. This is where the errors come in, including medication errors.
Your Stress Level Increases
Most medical professionals operate under an incredible amount of stress. Adding multitasking into the mix increases existing stress levels dramatically Your body interprets multitasking as an increased workload and releases adrenaline in response to perceived added stress. If you have prolonged exposure to a stressful environment, you may begin to lose interest in your job, leading to a decline in patient care. This phenomenon is also known as burnout, and the medical industry faces the highest levels of burnout among its employees of any profession.
You Have a Slower Reaction Time
According to The American Psychological Association, people who multitask on a daily basis have delayed reaction times and decreased productivity. If you run or work in a medical office, you know how detrimental this can be. Your patients might not have the time to wait for you to make decisions or come up with solutions. Every second counts when you have a critical patient and your undivided attention is key to delivering quality care. Your mind isn’t designed to process multiple projects at once and gets bogged down trying to do so.
Your Productivity Decreases
The goal of multitasking is to get more done in a shorter period of time. However, research shows that people who multitasked on a daily basis lost as much as 40 percent of their productivity due to small mental blocks or lapses created by switching tasks. If you work in the medical field, your time has to be carefully organized so you can accomplish everything that you need to in a day. You have to be on top of everything, so your patients receive the best care possible, without any delays or problems. A medical office can grind to a halt if files or processes get tangled, and your patient satisfaction will drop dramatically as a result.
You Develop Memory Impairment
If you always multitask, your brain can get overwhelmed, and this will lead to memory issues. If you are working on a chart and are constantly interrupted by phone calls, coworkers, or patients, you are at a higher risk of forgetting crucial details to finish your chart. If you have too much stimulation or information coming at you at the same time, your brain has a harder time telling what information is valuable and what isn’t important. This phenomenon contributes to distraction caused by unnecessary information stored in short-term memory.
When you think of practice management, especially medical management; the urge to multitask might be at the forefront of your mind. It is a highly busy field and is active 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, multitasking can be a dangerous mistake to make and, in some cases, can lead to burnout. Focus on one task at a time, and your productivity will go up. Your patients will appreciate a more streamlined process and feel confident in their chosen provider’s ability to deliver quality care.