Operating Room Cameras Could Prevent Deadly Surgical Mistakes, Some Say
September 23, 2015
A controversial, growing movement in the U.S. is pushing for the installation of cameras in operating rooms in order to document what happens during surgeries – especially those that go wrong and lead to allegations of medical malpractice claims.
This push is being spearheaded by two efforts: a proposed bill in Wisconsin and new technology being tested in Toronto.
Wisconsin Bill Proposing Cameras in ORs
Known as the “Julie Ayer Rubenzer Law,” a bill that is currently making its way through the Wisconsin legislature would institute:
A requirement for hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, or any other places where surgical procedures are performed (surgical facilities) to offer surgical patients the option to have their surgical procedures videotaped. Surgical facilities must provide notice of the option and all related procedures and conditions set forth in the bill.
This bill was named for a woman who died as a result of receiving excessive amounts of propofol during a breast augmentation surgery. The goal is to create an unbiased record of what happens during surgical procedures so that any adverse events that do occur can be studied and avoided in the future.
The reason that this bill is so important, supporters contend, is that current methods for recreating surgical mistakes (or investigating potential/alleged surgical mistakes) rely on sources that are often unreliable, such as:
- The memories of the medical professionals who participated in the procedure
- The notes that may have been taken during or after the procedure.
As the bill’s author, Wade Ayer has explained about this bill:
[Having cameras in operating rooms] offers transparency, truth, and accuracy in collecting data for the medical record and testimony. It offers data and insight for medical boards and even prosecutors. It offers oversight and policing.
Technology Being Tested in Toronto
While lawmakers, surgeons and many others throughout the U.S. are closely watching the progress of the Wisconsin bill, new related technology is currently being tested in a few Toronto operating rooms.
This technology, which is being referred to as an OR “black box,” comprises a video camera that records audio and visual footage that is synced with the patient’s physiological data/responses.
Speaking to the potential impacts of this technology, Teodor Grantcharov, the innovator who developed this black box, explained that:
In the majority of cases, the data will protect doctors in court… If it’s used for destructive purposes, the profession will shut it down. It’s a very delicate topic right now.
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