Why the Controversy over Surgical Black Boxes?

Canadian researchers have invented a surgical “black box” that provides surgeons and their peers with real time information and feedback on their surgical mistakes. According to lead researcher, surgeon Teodor Grantcharov doctors make approximately 20 errors per surgery, but those errors are rarely recognized. So, why the controversy over employing such devices in surgical settings? Some analysts fear it would expose surgeons and hospitals to a flood of medical malpractice lawsuits. Yet, the benefits are obvious, or should be. Here’s what the Advisory Board Company says,
“Grantcharov’s box is a ‘multifaceted system’ that includes room cameras and microphones that capture the surgeon’s movements and the care team’s dynamics. Among other things, the device could evaluate how surgeons stitch, how they handle organs, and how physicians communicate with their staff during surgery. The box could provide instant feedback when errors are made, which could dramatically reduce surgical errors and postoperative complications. Specifically, the system would point out mistakes as they are being made and warn surgeons when they are veering ‘off course’ during an operation or using techniques linked with high complication rates.” Surgeons and hospital officials shouldn’t fear this new technology. Rather, they should welcome it as William McMurry eloquently states, “the black box will provide surgeons with the information they need to avoid mistakes” and lead to “better health care.” That should be the bottom line.