Cell phone use during surgery may be the new anesthetic

Shayne Jacopian for redOrbit.com – @ShayneJacopian

There is a time and a place for everything, and sometimes, there is a time and place where you shouldn’t be texting. Whether you’re out to dinner, driving, listening to your significant other talk about their day—okay, people do that stuff anyway, so maybe this isn’t so strange, after all.

A Cornell University study led by Communications and Information Science Professor Jeff Hancock and doctoral student Jamie Guillory has found that cell phone use during surgery can reduce patients’ need for narcotic pain relief.

Wait, what?!

Knowing that social support before and during procedures done without general anesthesia can reduce perceptions of pain, the researchers allowed subjects to use their cell phones during their minor surgeries to either play the ever-popular Angry Birds, text a friend or family member, or text a complete stranger.

What they found was that those who received standard therapy—those who weren’t allowed to use cell phones during their procedures—were twice as likely to receive additional pain relief drugs than patients who played Angry Birds during their operations. Standard patients were four times as likely to need additional relief than patients who texted friends or relatives, and six times as likely to need more drugs than those who got familiar with strangers during their procedures.

The researchers say this study provides the first evidence that texting during surgery is more affective than, well, not texting during surgery, and is even more effective than other distraction methods like playing videogames while going under the knife for minor surgeries, like the removal of benign skin growths.

cell phone anesthetic

Just don’t expect to make a new friend via text message during your next open heart surgery. They’re probably not going to let you stay awake for that one.


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