New O.R. Black Box Could Reduce Surgical Negligence Cases

A doctor in Toronto has introduced a new invention that could reduce the number of surgical negligence reports if it was ever used on a widespread basis.

Known as a “black box” for the operating room, this device records events occurring in the operating room and the patient’s body at the same time, using both audio and visual imaging. The detailed electronic log would be able to uncover mistakes in the operating room to help doctors increase their level of surgical precision and accuracy.

Black box for surgeons

Dr. Teodor Grantcharov, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, likens his creation to the black box used in the aviation industry. Like the black box found on planes, this device would collect data from the entire surgical team, as well as the patient, during the procedure. The information would then be carefully analyzed to identify human error or potentially defective surgical equipment. The idea behind the technology is to quickly and accurately identify surgical errors so that they could be prevented in the future.

The O.R. black box system has been used on minimally invasive surgery at this point. The system includes a view inside the patient’s body at the surgical site, as well as an operating room camera that records all of the goings-on inside the O.R. The system includes audio capabilities, so conversations inside the operating room are also recorded.

Dr. Grantcharov’s equipment is currently being used to assess surgeries at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, including procedures performed by Dr. Grantcharov himself. There are also plans for the testing process to extend to surgeons in Denmark in the near future. Dr. Grantcharov hopes the equipment will eventually be used in hospitals across the globe.

Impact on surgical negligence lawsuits

If the new system is adopted by hospitals in the United States, it could impact surgical negligence lawsuits in the future. A black box system could accurately pinpoint the cause of complications and determine whether physician or equipment error played a role. The monitoring equipment could increase accuracy in the operating room as well. It could also provide information to manufacturers of surgical equipment, so that they could modify their products to improve patient outcomes. However, its actual role in the litigation process remains to be seen.

Not everyone is in favor of using this equipment inside the operating room without concrete guidelines for use in place. Some surgeons and hospital administrators fear this type of monitoring could lead to a “blame and shame” process that would result in more stress for surgeons and other staff in the O.R. While most agree the system could theoretically improve patient safety and outcomes, how it is used by administrators and attorneys would in large part determine its success.

Surgery errors in New York and elsewhere

Medical News Today recently cited statistics from Johns Hopkins University that showed approximately 4,000 surgical errors occur in the United States every year. Some of these errors are catastrophic, such as operating on the wrong body part or leaving foreign objects inside the patient. However, other errors, such as perforation of organs or incorrect incisions can be equally devastating for a patient and family.

When patients become victims of surgery errors in New York or other areas of the United States, it can mean months or even years of ongoing medical treatment. It might result in a disability the patient did not have prior to the surgery. In the worst case scenarios, surgical errors can even lead to the death of a patient.

If you or someone you love has been the victim of a surgical negligence in New York, there is help available. The Sanders Firm works with injured NY residents to protect their legal rights and help them pursue compensation they might be entitled to. Individuals may receive monetary damages to help pay for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. To receive a complimentary evaluation of your case, contact the Sanders Firm at 1.800.FAIR.PLAY.