Patients treated by doctors who are constantly interrupted by other staff are at risk of receiving poorer care, a new study has claimed.
Researchers in Australia found that medics can be sought out by colleagues more than six times an hour on average, and such doctors fail to return to one in five of their jobs when diverted elsewhere.
University of Sydney experts carried out research at a large hospital's A&E department and found 11% of 9,588 medical tasks were interrupted, 3.3% of them more than once.
One of the main conclusions of the research was that when doctors go back to a task after being called away, they spend less time on it than if they had never been interrupted.
The researchers, writing online in the journal Quality and Safety in Health Care, said one of the reasons this trend emerged was medics tried to complete tasks quicker in an effort to make up for lost time after an interruption.
"I'm not surprised. More and more is expected of each professional, healthcare targets and high patient throughput mean healthcare providers need more 'bang for their buck'. We work harder constantly adding on more and more paperwork and new initiatives. There's only so much a person can do" - Angela Hewitt, Scotland