Researchers at the University of Toronto have developed a surgical “black box” that would track a surgeon’s actions during surgery and record any errors.

The purpose of the device is to collect data during surgery which could later be used to shed light on why a patient had a poor surgical outcome. The device would also allow researchers to analyze why surgical errors occur in an effort to prevent future mistakes.

Wisconsin Rep. Christine Sinicki has also introduced legislation that would allow patients to have their surgeries audiovisually recorded. If this bill is passed, it would require healthcare facilities to give surgical patients the option of having their surgery videotaped.

The proposed law would be named for Julie Ayer Ribenzer, a 38 year old woman who died after receiving too much of the anesthetic propofol during a breast implant surgery.

New York has a similar bill, “Raina’s Law,” which was named for 19 year old Raina Ferraro who went into cardiac and respiratory arrest due to negligent anesthesia administration during surgery, which sought to require cameras in all operating rooms.

Surgical errors are common and can lead to serious injuries and even death.

The surgical black box and the proposed Wisconsin and New York law reflect the growing public concern that surgical errors are not being disclosed and that there is no accountability for doctors or hospitals when errors occur.

Audiovisual recording in operating rooms would provide additional data to help medical providers, patients and their families understand why something went wrong. Unfortunately, doctors and hospitals don’t seem to agree.

The Wisconsin Hospital Association and Wisconsin Medical Society have asserted that they are opposed to Rep. Sinicki’s bill. Some doctors have also reasoned that bringing black boxes into operating rooms could later be used against them in a legal matter.

The topic of recording surgery is becoming more and more common. It is very possible that audiovisual recordings are the future of medical malpractice investigation and medical error prevention.

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Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer
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