Medical errors can have catastrophic, and sometimes deadly consequences. For those affected by such errors, the medical malpractice lawsuits that often follow can be complex, stressful, and lengthy. During that time, the injured or the family of the deceased must bear the weight of financial burdens caused by the death or injury. But what if it were possible to determine, beyond a reasonable doubt, if a death or injury had been the result of an unpreventable complication, or if it had been caused by negligence?
The University of Toronto has already created a device that could do all of this, and more.
University of Toronto Device Spurs Bills in Wisconsin and New York
The University of Toronto originally developed their device to track the actions and errors of surgeons so that data could be collected and analyzed for the purpose of determining why certain errors occur, and what could be done to prevent them in the future. Lawmakers in both Wisconsin and New York saw another possibility for the “black box” devices—medical malpractice suits.
Named after women who died due to anesthesia errors during surgery—Julie Ayer Ribenzer, 38, and Raina Ferraro, 19—both bills are essentially the same. They would require healthcare facilities to start offering patients the option of having their surgeries recorded audio-visually. The Wisconsin bill would also allow patients to execute an advanced directive in which they could express their desire to have all future surgeries recorded.
Recorded surgeries could potentially increase patient safety, decrease the time spent navigating complex medical malpractice suits, provide loved ones with answers and peace of mind, and help improve surgical procedures for high-risk patients and patients that suffered complications because of unpredictable or unforeseen circumstances. Unfortunately, there are surgeons and healthcare professionals who fail to see this is a positive movement.
Surgeons and Facilities Push Against Recorded Surgeries
According to the National Law Review, the Wisconsin Hospital Association and Wisconsin Medical Society have indicated they are opposed to the bill. Some doctors have also shown resistance over the idea of having recording devices within the operating room. Most say they are concerned over the data being used against them in a legal proceeding. However, it should be noted that, if a mistake did not occur—if the complication was not the result of negligence—it would be much easier to excuse the surgeon from fault than in a proceeding in which such a device was not available.
Accountability is Essential for Victims and Their Families
Physicians, surgeons, and healthcare facilities should be held to a higher standard—not because they are above mistakes, but because they are being entrusted with the lives of people. When mistakes do happen, they should be held accountable; families and victims should be rightfully compensated for their loss.
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