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Surgical black box device

New York residents may benefit if the surgical tracking box ever makes it to market in the U.S. According to CNN, researchers in Canada are currently developing a device that would be analogous to the black box recorder used in the aircraft industry. However, the surgical black box will not only record errors, but it may be able to help surgeons avoid from committing errors as well. While many praise the educational component of the new tool, others have cited potential legal issues.

A small computing device analyzes footage recorded from the video cameras in the operating room, providing feedback to surgeons and identifying when errors are made. The team hopes to be able to provide information that affects patient safety to surgeons in real-time. The device has already been tested on 40 patients who were undergoing weight-loss surgery. According to the surgeon heading the research, regardless of experience level, the average surgeon makes 20 errors per surgery and is often unaware of making them.

This tool would allow surgeons to review their own operations in an effort to improve technique or prep for the next surgery. Many believe that the use of the device could lower the rate of post-operation complications considerably. While many hospitals are interested, the potential for an increase in malpractice lawsuits may cause some resistance. However, the U.S. Healthcare Quality Improvement Act currently protects information and recordings used in medical peer-review from being cited as evidence in legal proceedings.

Patients who suffer an injury due to surgical or medical error may decide to talk to a personal injury lawyer soon after. Lawyers may be able to investigate the incident and assess whether filing a surgical malpractice claim against the physician or facility is a good strategy. If legal counsel can prove the doctor is culpable, the patient may entitled to collect restitution or a settlement amount.

Source: CNN, "Surgical 'black box' could reduce errors", Chethan Sathya, August 22, 2014

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