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Ontario doctor gets proactive about error discovery

A doctor in Toronto has started using something akin to black boxes in planes in the operating room. Black boxes record data that may be helpful in determining the cause of a crash, and a similar system is being used in operating rooms to help find the causes of medical errors. While the aviation industry is generally proactive about tracking down flight problems and their causes, the medical industry does not always have the same desire to track down the sources of errors.

Mistakes made in the operating room can range in severity from having no discernible impact to being the cause of a death, so figuring out what mistakes are being made, when they occur and why they occur may help improve patient safety. Air Canada was consulted to help determine the best way to implement the system and to ensure that the best information possible is gathered.

The device is being used at St. Michael's Hospital and is a prototype that uses cameras and microphones to record every move that the scalpel makes as well as what is said by the medical team during keyhole surgical procedures. To protect patient safety, recorded data is deleted after 30 days. While the device is still being tested, the doctor stated that information from the device has helped them discover that two steps during gastric bypass surgeries are where 86 per cent of mistakes are made.

Medical errors do not always occur in operating rooms. A missed or delay in diagnosis, incorrect medication prescriptions and a variety of other mistakes can lead to the development or worsening of medical conditions for patients. A medical malpractice lawyer might help someone who believes they were harmed due to a doctor's negligence pursue legal action.

Source: CBC News, "OR recordings aim to track surgical errors", July 14, 2014

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