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Interruptions and work tasks

Highly trained workers in North Carolina and the rest of the country who have certain occupations, such as nursing, can be at risk for making errors if they are interrupted. This is according to a study conducted by psychology researchers at Michigan State University.

Workers who are experienced at their jobs tend to be faster at performing their tasks, making their actions more closely spaced in time. It can also make it more difficult for them to recall where to resume a task after they have been interrupted. The lead investigator of the study presented an example of a nurse being interrupted while making preparations to give a dose of medication and having to recall if he or she administered the medicine. Generally, a nurse with more experience who executes the steps of administering medicine more quickly will remember with less accuracy than a nurse with less experience who may be slower in performing the task.

While experienced nurses should not be prevented from giving medicine, their high skill levels and experience should be identified as risk factors for increased errors after interruptions. Also, the practitioners who are able to quickly and accurately perform a task may come up with ways for keeping track of their place. According to a researcher from the study, the faster events occur, the worse people are at remembering them. Workers who are routinely interrupted while involved with critical medical procedures, such as those in emergency rooms, may find equipment design and training that help them remember their place in a task very beneficial.

Interruptions during certain medical procedures may result in errors. This could result in a patient suffering a worsened medical condition. People who have been harmed in such a manner may want to meet with an attorney to see if the error rose to the level of medical malpractice.

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