Surgical Errors May Be Avoided With ‘Black Box’ Operating Room Device

New technology could be coming to the operating room, which may help cut down on the risk of surgical errors and medical malpractice, according to a new report. 

A surgeon at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto is working on a device he is referring to as a “surgical black box,” which would include video cameras to track surgical movements within the operating room, with a small computerized device outside the operating room that analyzes and records the information, similar to the “black box” featured on commercial airplanes.

The device is being developed by Dr. Teodor Grantcharov, a minimally invasive surgeon, who hopes to see the surgical black box in hospitals around the world soon, according to a recent report by CNN.com.

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The surgical black box includes both video and microphone recordings, which focus on surgical movements and surgical team dynamics. The device identifies when mistakes are made during surgery, providing immediate feedback to the surgeons while operating, and serving as a means of identifying issues that could lead to future injury for patients.

Postoperative complications could be significantly reduced by the device, according to Grantcharoy. Additionally, surgeons would be able to review the footage which would help them improve their technique and prepare for their next surgery.

Grantcharov was inspired to create the black box after seeing how surgical complications and medical errors affected surgeons over the years. He indicates that the black box has helped to make him a better surgeon and a better teacher.

The black box system is similar to the black boxes which are placed in airplanes, except the ones in airplanes focus on offering data after a disaster has occurred. The surgical black boxes are designed to identify and prevent the mistakes in real time.

The black box would potentially assess everything from how the surgeon stitches the patients, how delicately they handle the organs and how they communicate with the nurses in both normal situations and high-stress events. The device also includes error-analysis software which helps to identify when surgeons deviate from normal procedures or use techniques linked to higher rates of complications.

The system was tested in 40 patients in Canada undergoing laparoscopic weight-loss surgery. It is currently in the early stages of development, but has helped to analyze errors during surgeries to evaluate which ones will lead to errors, especially since not every error leads to patient complications.

Research conducted has found surgeons will recognize about 20 errors per surgery, regardless of experience level. Grantcharov hopes the system will be used as an education tool to help surgeons identify these errors more accurately and help them improve in the operating room.

The system could be implemented quickly if hospitals and doctors are open to the device being placed in the operating room. Because it is not considered a medical device it does not require FDA approval.

2 Comments

  • JasonDecember 9, 2014 at 5:01 am

    Using a black box is really good as we can figure out on what is going on in the operation theater so as to track on the surgeries and to prevent medical errors.This is also helpful for patients while filing for medical malpractice. In Toronto the doctors had amputated my friend’s wrong leg and medical malpractice lawyers in Toronto used the black box as an evidence and filed a medical malpractic[Show More]Using a black box is really good as we can figure out on what is going on in the operation theater so as to track on the surgeries and to prevent medical errors.This is also helpful for patients while filing for medical malpractice. In Toronto the doctors had amputated my friend’s wrong leg and medical malpractice lawyers in Toronto used the black box as an evidence and filed a medical malpractice suit against the doctor and the hospital authorities. She won her case and got the maximum benefits.

  • billAugust 26, 2014 at 3:17 am

    As a former scrub tech when laparascopy was just introduced I must say that this a step in the right direction.keep up the good work.p.s. nanobots.wow!what next?

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