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Possible tools to aid in investigation of surgical errors

As concern over surgical errors and fear that hospitals and medical personnel are not disclosing the errors that occur continues to grow, there are a few tools being considered as a way to have a record of what goes on during a surgery, including tracking the actions of the surgeon. Oklahoma residents who might need to undergo a surgical procedure might find it interesting to learn about these tools and how they might be used to research any error that might lead to a harmful outcome.

One of the tools that is being introduced is a surgical ‘black box” that functions much like an airplane black box. This tool tracks all the actions of the surgeon during a procedure, including any errors made. The box might be useful if the outcome of the surgery is not what was expected and hospital negligence is suspected. Another tool that is being considered by at least two state legislatures is allowing patients the choice to have their surgeries audiovisually recorded, with the hope that data from these recordings can be used to determine if any error was made during a surgery.

The reasoning for introducing these tools is that the data from the black box and the audiovisual recordings can be beneficial to both the patients and their families as well as the medical community when the outcome of a surgery is not what was expected and can be used to prevent medical error. However, many doctors and hospitals do not want the black boxes or the audiovisual recordings in the operating rooms because they seem to fear that the data might be used against them in possible legal procedures.

The reasons for poor outcomes in surgeries are not always known. However, if a patient is harmed as a result of a procedure, a medical malpractice attorney might examine the pertinent medical records and, with the assistance of expert witnesses, make the determination as to whether negligence on the part of a health care practitioner or the facility itself was the cause of the damage.