Pennsylvania hospitals resistant to surgical black boxes

On behalf of John Gismondi

Technology has shown significant promise in reducing surgical errors

A new technology, referred to as a surgical black box, has already shown great potential for reducing errors in the operating room, according to CNN. The technology, which is similar to the black box technology used on airplanes, is designed to record important data during operations in order to help reduce common surgical errors. Despite initial tests showing much promise, however, Pennsylvania hospitals are already showing resistance to adopting the black boxes in their own operating rooms.

Surgical black boxes

Researchers in Toronto developed the black boxes after seeing how many surgeons expressed confusion and frustration after learning that a patient had developed complications following surgery. In many cases, the surgeon was unclear about what had gone wrong during the surgery.

The technology analyzes important data points to identify common surgical errors. During initial testing on 40 patients undergoing laparoscopic weight-loss surgery, the researchers picked up on an average of 20 mistakes made during each surgery, the majority of which the surgeons themselves failed to notice. Such information, researchers say, could be used to better train surgeons and improve patient safety. Already a number of hospitals throughout the U.S. have expressed interest in the devices.

Pennsylvania hospitals skeptical

Pennsylvania hospitals, however, do not appear to be among those facilities that will soon be adopting the surgical black boxes. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, an attending surgeon for a major Philadelphia hospital expressed skepticism about the devices. He claims that because the devices would require a team of experts to analyze the data, that they would be too labor intensive to operate.

Furthermore, he worries that creating too much oversight and control in the operating room would lead to surgeons losing their skills because there would be less “versatility and proficiency.” In his analysis, because no two surgeries are alike, it would be a mistake to use data that applies too many standards across different types of surgeries. However, if surgeons do warm to the black box, it could begin showing up in operating rooms quickly since it is not considered a medical device and therefore would not need to get approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Medical malpractice

As the above article shows, surgical errors are not as uncommon as many people, including surgeons themselves, would like to believe. Although most errors may not lead to complications, there are still far too many that end up causing health problems for thousands of patients every year.

For those who have suffered because of a surgical or other medical error, it is important to reach out to a medical malpractice attorney right away. The right attorney can advise clients about how a medical malpractice claim usually works and about the steps that can be taken to ensure a patient’s rights are upheld after suffering from any alleged malpractice.