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Developing technology may help surgeons avoid errors, improve technique

Surgical errors can result in serious harm to patients in some cases, and it goes without saying that patients deserve to have the assurance that their providers and their employers are continually working on ways to reduce the occurrence of errors to make operations more successful. Improvements can come from a variety of approaches, including improved safety practices, better staff communication, and enhanced technology.

In the area of technology, surgical "black boxes" hold some promise of helping improve surgical operation safety. In Canada, there are researchers working on developing devices which record surgeon's hand movements and which identify errors in the procedure, giving the surgeon immediate feedback on their progress. Not only could these devices help avoid medical errors and save lives, they could help surgeons to better improve their technique by pinpointing when errors occur. 

Like many things in the medical industry, though, there is going to be room for human error and such devices are being developed with an eye toward helping educate surgeons rather than for litigation purposes. How far away is this technology from being used by doctors? Though the devices are still in development, it is possible that once they are ready, they may start being adopted by surgeons fairly quickly since they are not considered medical devices which require FDA approval.

Surgical error can have a big impact on an individual's health and future, and it is important for those who are harmed to understand their options for recovery, including the possibility of pursuing litigation.

Source:, "Surgical 'black box' could reduce errors," Dr. Chethan Sathya, August 22, 2014. 

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