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The future of recorded surgical procedures

Aug 6, 2015 | Surgical Errors

Although negative outcomes can be among the risks one faces during surgery, most patients expect to survive their procedures without serious or fatal results. Still, some patients may worry about these risks as they prepare. New York legislators have proposed a bill requiring the presence of cameras in operating rooms based on the case of a 19-year-old woman who experienced both respiratory and cardiac arrest after anesthesia errors occurred. A similar bill has been proposed in Wisconsin because of an anesthesia error that led to the death of a 38-year-old woman.

Research is underway to develop a tool for recording surgeon activity during a procedure, allowing for errors to be identified so that patient outcomes may be more clearly understood. However, the medical community is somewhat opposed to the idea of this type of monitoring due to the potential for legal action. Advocates for patients and their loved ones believe that there is potential for better understanding why an adverse result has occurred when there is a record of the procedure.

Because surgical mistakes are often preventable, audiovisual recordings could improve results in this area as providers take additional precautions to avoid adverse outcomes. Further, this could provide a more accurate record of surgical errors, which are not always disclosed. Professionalism, hygiene, and other protocols could be evaluated in light of recording activity as well.

A family dealing with the negative medical outcome related to anesthesia or other issues during a loved one’s surgery may have a difficult time determining whether medical errors played a role. If a recording is available, a lawyer might review it to identify signs of medical malpractice. In the absence of a recording, it might be necessary to review the medical records of the patient and obtain the opinions of experts.