If the Tennessee legislature follows Wisconsin's example, then the medical malpractice field might have new investigation tools available in cases involving surgical errors. A Wisconsin representative recently introduced a bill that would require health care facilities to allow patients the option of having their surgeries audiovisually recorded. Patients also could execute an advance directive requesting all future surgical procedures be recorded.
This proposed legislation attempts to provide patients, their families and health care providers additional data for those instances when the surgical outcome is unexpected and perhaps catastrophic. Audiovisual recording expands upon the concept of a surgical “black box,” a device under development by researchers at the University of Toronto designed to track actions during a surgery and record errors that occur, with the intent of collecting data to be used later by researchers in analysis of surgical mistakes and ways to prevent future errors.
Many surgeons, hospitals and other health care facilities oppose the legislation, in part out of fear that the data gathered by devices such as the surgical black box and by recordings of surgeries will be used as evidence against them in the future. Proponents of the legislation believe recordings of surgeries might help identify where a surgery went wrong and improve future surgical outcomes for patients.
For now, most patients who experience surgical errors do not have any such recordings available to help them or their families in their search for answers as to what went wrong in the operating room. Patients who have suffered harm in that matter may want to consult with a medical malpractice attorney in order to learn what investigation tools are available in their case.