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Tampa Medical Malpractice Attorneys > Blog > Surgical Error > Do “Black Boxes” In The Operating Room Prevent Surgical Errors?

Do “Black Boxes” In The Operating Room Prevent Surgical Errors?


You have probably heard about the so-called black boxes in the aviation industry, which record functions, conversations, changes in altitude, and other factors that are useful when investigating plane crashes. The technology and underlying strategies have now carried over into the practice of medicine, according to an article from the Becker’s Healthcare newsletter. Much like in airplanes, the devices record video, audio, data from surgical robots, and patient vital signs during a procedure. In two hospitals where these solutions have been implemented, administration is pleased with the improvement in efficiency and communications.

However, these facilities have not measured how OR black boxes improve quality patient care. The technology is new, so there are no reported instances where the system had a direct impact on preventing surgical errors. That time may come, meaning there could be interesting questions about the use of black boxes in medical malpractice cases. Your Tampa surgical errors attorney will take advantage of all sources of evidence, but some background is useful.

Benefits of the OR Black Box: Like in aviation, black boxes in surgical settings are highly sophisticated monitoring systems that capture all events, tasks, conversations, and interactions that take place during a procedure. They can even record performance issues, distractions from external sources, and equipment malfunctions. The benefits include:

  • Efficiency: Administration can identify problem areas during surgery, such as the surgeon needing to cross the room to access a robot or tool. Placement and rearranging trays, surgical instruments, booms for overhead devices, and even people can make a difference.
  • Positive Reinforcement: When a procedure goes well and everything falls into place, administration, surgical teams, and other staff learn from it.

From this information, you can see that the nature of black box technology delivers benefits on the back end: Reviewing the recorded content can identify a mistake that was made, but it will not prevent it from happening.

 Questions About Evidence: The successes with efficiency and communication will likely lead many health care systems to implement black boxes in surgical centers. Some hospitals have expressed interest in installing the technology in ER and trauma facilities to gain the same benefits. As adoption increases, it becomes more likely that the information recorded by black boxes will be a focal point in medical malpractice cases.

Black box technology could support a surgical errors claim IF a court allows the evidence, in which case you might have solid, credible proof of a mistake. On the other hand, health care providers can also use the recorded materials to bolster a defense. The content may reveal that the surgical staff complied with the standard of care, weakening your case.

Count on a Florida Surgical Errors Lawyer to Protect Your Interests 

OR black box records may play a role in medical malpractice cases in the future, but there are other sources of proof to support your claim. For more information, please contact Greco & Wozniak P.A. to set up a free consultation with a surgical errors attorney. You can reach our offices in Tampa, FL by calling 813.223.7849 or visiting our website.



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