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New black box device has potential to prevent surgical errors

Arizona residents and patients may be interested in a new device designed to prevent errors in hospital operating rooms. The device, referred to as a surgical black box, is currently under development at a Toronto hospital. It consists of cameras and microphones linked to a software package that records and analyzes every movement during a surgical procedure with the intended goal of being able to detect and eliminate potential errors.

A doctor at Toronto's St. Michael's Hospital, who is involved in developing the project, says that the system is currently being used to track surgical procedures and record errors in an effort to analyze which mistakes lead to problems for patients. His preliminary findings indicate that about 20 mistakes are made in every procedure, although the mistakes do not necessarily result in complications.

Before the system will gain widespread acceptance, there are a few issues to be resolved. One is that surgeons often develop alert fatigue, and they could become insensitive to signals generated by the new system. The other is that surgeons may be reluctant to install such a system since it records their every movement, which could prove to be a liability. The system is scheduled for further testing in several other countries and in the U.S.

Medical malpractice can occur in a number of different places, including hospitals and emergency treatment centers. It often results from surgical errors, a misdiagnosis of symptoms or a person being given the wrong prescription. Anyone who believes they may have suffered due to medical malpractice may want to speak with an attorney who has experience in that area to see if a suit is warranted for compensation of resulting damages.

Source: Forbes, "Tricorder X Prize Is Interesting, But Surgical 'Black Box' Could Save Lives Right Away", Neil Versel, August 28, 2014

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