Are operating room cameras the answer to preventing errors?

Friday August 28, 2015

While heart disease and cancer are the number one and two causes of death in the U.S., the third is likely less known by the public. It’s preventable medical errors and they kill an estimated 400,000 people each year. For many families, simply not knowing what went wrong that cost their loved ones their lives is something that will haunt them.

There are many people who are in support of a movement that wants surgical suites and hospitals to record both audio and video of procedures. A surgeon out of Toronto believes this a good idea, too, and has developed a type of “black box” that will also record the physical data of the patient. He already has two U.S. hospitals that will test the system.

Imagine surgeons and medical staffers being able to review procedures much like athletes review their performance. There’s already a bill in Wisconsin’s legislature that would require all operating rooms in the state to have cameras in place. According to the bill’s supporters, there are other states where lawmakers are watching to see what happens with the bill.

Not only will cameras help explain what happens in “adverse events,” it may also deter bad or inept behavior by surgeons and other medical staff.

While this is not something that will completely eliminate medical errors in operating rooms, it is something that can help provide information on what happened and what went wrong. For the family members of those who lose their loved ones, that alone can be helpful in them being able to move on.

Source: The Washington Post, “Could cameras in operating rooms reduce preventable medical deaths?,” Tom Jackman, Aug. 25, 2015

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