Recording Medical Procedures for Patient Safety
As many as 98,000 Americans die every year as the result of surgical errors and mistakes made by hospitals (misdiagnosis, incorrect dosages, incorrect prescriptions, etc.). The number could be even higher, as many of cases of malpractice are not even reported. Lawsuits arising from medical malpractice are usually long, drawn-out and complex.
One thing that would lead to detection of error and earlier resolution of malpractice cases would be recording of surgical procedures and patient-physician encounters. Technology developed at the University of Toronto is similar to the “black box” recording devices in airplanes and commercial vehicles, and would help patients and doctors alike.
The American Medical Association already recognizes the benefit of recording patient interactions for public use, education, and other purposes. Additionally, medical records are already covered by stringent privacy laws and regulations, so recordings of surgical procedures and other patient interactions would be similarly protected. If more procedures were recorded, patients who are injured by medical negligence would have convincing evidence of malpractice. Likewise, doctors would be protected from frivolous allegations if the recordings showed no error.
Wisconsin lawmakers have proposed “Julie’s Law,” which is named after Julie Ribenzer, a patient who died after a surgeon administered too much anesthetic. Utah should join with states that have laws to allow patients to have their medical procedures to be recorded.