Sunday, April 10, 2011

Multi-tasking one more time: This time it's evidence-based!

Serendipity strikes!

I'm just back from a fantastic week at the International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare in Amsterdam.   (By the way, if as the first assignment of a new job, your boss flies you to Europe, take that job!)  In addition to all the terrific presentations and discussion around quality improvement and patient safety, a major topic of conversation was the popularity of bike-riding in the Netherlands.  Aside from the novelty of seeing people cycling to work in suits and lugging briefcases, many of us commented on the prevalence of people using their cell phones while biking.  It looked like pretty unsafe multi-tasking!

Which reminded me of my recent experience of averted multi-tasking in the OR.

Which had led to comments on an advisory from the British Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons on the same topic.

And then, while I was catching up on one of my favorite podcasts - CBC's Spark - I found a discussion of multitasking while bike-riding, followed by a review of research on multi-tasking.  By a Stanford professor, no less!  Check out the podcast here (the first 15 minutes are about multi-tasking), but here's the spoiler: "Multi-tasking" is rapid-transition distraction.  Stop it.

(Unabashed gushing: I love the Spark podcast.  It's about technology, but as they describe themselves "It’s not just technology for gearheads, it’s about the way technology affects our lives, and the world around us." You can subscribe here.

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