Surgical 'black box' may track and detect medical errors

Patient Safety Monitor Insider

August 27, 2014

A new tracking device could help reduce medical errors by watching and recording a surgeon’s actions, alerting them of errors and suggesting alternatives, according to a report in Outpatient Surgery magazine.


According to the report, Canadian researchers are developing the technology, which has been likened to the “black box” found on airliners. The device reportedly uses audio and video recorders that are connected to a computer and can give doctors immediate feedback during procedures. For instance, the device could be used to indicate whether the surgeon is using techniques linked to high mistakes and suggest alternatives.

While the device is being hailed as a potential way to cut down on medical errors, proponents say it could be used in malpractice lawsuits, and could create nervousness among surgeons, increasing their hesitations.

According to the report, the device will be tested in hospitals in Canada, Denmark and parts of South America over the next few months. There are also discussions to bring the black boxes to several U.S. hospitals.