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Surgical ‘Black Boxes’ Could Improve Safety In The Operating Room

New surgical ‘black boxes’ could improve patient safety, but Philadelphia hospitals seem resistant to them.

Despite promising results, Philadelphia hospitals appear resistant

An operating room ‘black box’ currently being tested by researchers in Toronto has the potential to decrease surgical errors and improve patient safety during surgery, according to CNN. The black boxes, like their aviation counterparts, monitor and record data during a surgery in order to help surgeons notice their mistakes and prevent them from happening. While the device has already produced some promising results, hospitals in Philadelphia have shown some resistance to adopting the devices in their own operating rooms.

Most doctors don’t notice mistakes

The black boxes have already been tested on 40 patients who underwent weight-loss surgery at a Toronto hospital. The results found that surgeons make an average of 20 mistakes per surgery regardless of whether they are novice or experienced surgeons, although not all mistakes lead to complications. According to the leader of the study, most surgeons do not realize they have actually made a mistake during the operation.

The device could be used to pinpoint when mistakes are most likely to occur so that surgeons would be better prepared when going into the operating room. The black box, while still being developed, could record a number of data points, such as heart rates, room temperature, stitching, how organs are handled, and other measures to get a better idea of how a specific operation is being carried out. Software would then be used to warn doctors if they are deviating from any norms or may be making an error.

Hospitals resistant

Although the lead surgeon behind the black box claims the device has made him a better surgeon, hospitals in Philadelphia are showing resistance to adopting the devices in their own operating rooms anytime in the near future, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. A representative for a major Philadelphia hospital claims that because every surgery is unique, it would be unwise to adopt a device that applies “norms” to all surgeries.

The resistance, however, may also be due to fears that the new equipment could provide valuable evidence during medical malpractice lawsuits, says CNN. Currently, patients who suffer injuries or complications as a result of an operation often have little more to rely on than audio recordings of the operation. As a result, it can be difficult for an injured patient to pinpoint when an error occurred during the surgery.

Surgical errors

While the device described above has the potential to greatly improve patient safety, it nonetheless appears as though it will be a long time before these black boxes make their way into Philadelphia operating rooms.

As such, anybody who has suffered from a surgical error or other type of medical malpractice will need all the help they can get when trying to hold any medical personnel responsible for their negligence. A highly qualified medical malpractice attorney will have the experience and expertise needed to understand how surgical errors typically happen and what can be done to make sure victims of such errors get the compensation they deserve.

The attorneys at The Colleran Firm handle serious injury cases caused by health care provider negligence and medical malpractice in Pennsylvania & New Jersey.

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