A Black Box in the Operating Room — Can It End Medical Malpractice?

Device Being Used to Gather Information during Surgical Procedures

Operating roomMedical professionals in Canada have been experimenting with a “surgical black box,” similar to the device famously used in the airlines to track flight data. With the medical black box, cameras and microphones capture dialogue and action, while other patient information, such as blood pressure and heart rate, are automatically stored.

Doctors at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto say the decision to develop the technology. Dr. Teodor Grantcharov, a surgeon, told reporters that his interest in creating the medical black box technology stemmed from his observation that most surgeons operated with little or no supervision, and that the absence of feedback or coaching created an environment where mistakes were likely to be repeated. Grantcharov has worked directly with authorities at Air Canada while developing the black box.

The device has been tested at St. Michael’s for about six months. Though Grantcharov has yet to analyze the information obtained, he believes that it has already paid dividends. He believes that he and his colleagues have already used the technology in improve preparation for surgery. He has been in talks with Google to see if the black box technology can be integrated with Google’s computerized eyewear, so that doctors can use information gathered to make real-time surgical adjustments.

Grantcharov’s device is slated for test studies in Denmark and the United States in the coming months.

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