Black Boxes in the Operating Room?

Every time there is a airplane crash, we hear about the efforts to locate “the black box.”

The “black box” is a flight data recorder – a device that constantly gathers information from dozens of sources about the operation of the airplane.   There is also a cockpit voice recorder, which captures sounds in the cockpit, including the conversations among the pilots.  The collective data is essential to understand how plane crashes occur.

(By the way, a “black box” is not black – it is orange.  Federal law requires that they be painted orange so they are easier to find after a crash.)

Now, black boxes are beginning to appear in operating rooms.  Surgery Safety Technologies in Toronto describes its new product this way:

Equipped with advanced sensors and AI-driven analytics, the OR Black Box® Platform is designed to measure and optimize Efficiency, Safety, and Compliance to standard operating procedures. With unrivalled insights that help eliminate overtime, prevent never events, optimize post operative recovery, and improve safety culture.

The company reports that “[o]ur platform automates SOP compliance audits effortlessly, covering crucial areas like Surgical Safety Checklist. Institutions adopting our system have discovered significant gaps between reported and actual compliance, leading to improved safety outcomes and culture.” It also says “[a]nalysis of captured surgical data assists in comprehending the factors contributing to incidents, thereby driving improvements in safety protocols. Insights derived from our platform are shared globally, facilitating collective learning and preventing the recurrence of similar incidents.”

ARS Technica reports that “[t]he surveillance technology has been implanted in operating rooms in over two dozen hospitals in the US and Canada so far. Most recently, the Boston area’s Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital became one of the latest adopters of the technology ….”

Lawyers who do health care liability work will seek discovery of the data captured by this technology, increasing the likelihood that the truth of what happened during a procedure will be uncovered.

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